Exposure to excessive vibration can result in injuries and diseases such as vibration white finger, Raynaud's phenomenon, and carpal tunnel syndrome. In extreme cases, these injuries and diseases can lead to permanent impairment of the hands and arms.
Vibration can be explained as the back and forth motion produced by objects such as tools, machinery and equipment. It has two components:
The risk of vibration induced injury depends on the average daily exposure as well as from the individual's sensitivity to vibration. An evaluation takes into account the intensity and frequency of the vibration, the duration (years) of exposure and the body part that receives the vibration energy.
Construction employees who operate powered equipment with high frequency vibration or high impact (such as chainsaws, grinders, jackhammers, impact wrenches, or sanders) for extended periods are at high risk of hand/arm vibration injuries. The adverse effect produced by exposure to vibration is called hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Employees affected by HAVS commonly report:
Attacks are usually triggered by cold temperatures or contact with cold liquids or solids. Cold weather and smoking are important aggravating factors. Both increase the risk of HAVS and may precipitate an attack.
Some preventive measures include:
As an employer, you must:
|Total daily exposure*||Acceleration|
|Less than 1 hour||12 m/s2|
|1-2 hours||8 m/s2|
|2-4 hours||6 m/s2|
|4-8 hours||4 m/s2|
While the employer is ultimately responsible for all the provisions mentioned above, the supervisor has a vital role to play in the safety of their teams. As a supervisor, you must:
As an employee, you must:
General Regulation - Occupational Health and Safety Act
N.B. Reg. 91-191
Part V NOISE AND VIBRATION
Section 33.2 Vibration
33.2 An employer shall ensure that the exposure of an employee to hand-arm vibration is kept as low as is practical and does not exceed the following exposures:
Exposure of the Hand to Vibration in either Up and Down, Sideways or Forward and Back Directions
|Total daily exposure duration*||Values of the dominant**, frequency-weighted, root mean square, component acceleration which shall not be exceeded|
|4 hours and less than 8 hours||4||0.40|
|2 hours and less than 4 hours||6||0.61|
|1 hour and less than 2 hours||8||0.81|
|less than one hour||12||1.22|
* The total time vibration enters the hand per day, whether continuously or intermittently
** Usually one axis of vibration is dominant over the two remaining axes. If one or more vibration axis exceeds the total daily exposure, then the exposure limit has been exceeded.
*** 1 g = 9.81 m/s2
[N.B. Reg. 2001-33, s. 13]