Hand-arm vibration testing – your duties as an employer

Hand-arm vibration is a vibration that's transmitted into a workers' hands and arms - it can come from a wide variety of things, from hand-operated power tools to washing machines. Ordinarily, you might not consider hand-arm vibration that big of a deal, however it is.

Regular exposure to hand-arm vibration can create health issues, such as HAVS (hand-arm vibration syndrome) and CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome). Both of these illnesses are permanent, and many workers choose to sue their employer if necessary health and safety procedures are not carried out.

For this reason, it pays to know all about hand-arm vibration as an employer.

The Law

Vibration Regulations are in force that require employers to:

  • Control vibration to protect workers
  • Provide instruction, information, and training to employees on the risk of hand-arm vibration
  • Provide health surveillance to employees at risk

Your Duty as an Employer

It is your duty as an employer to protect employees from the risk of hand-arm vibration. With many industries at risk of having employees suffer from hand-arm vibration (construction, civil work, engineering, forestry, and the motor vehicle industry are common industries), vibration testing is a good way to safeguard employees and yourself. You may also be breaking the law by not carrying it out.

The vibration risk assessment is a risk assessment that aims to help employers  decide what actions need to be taken to ensure that the health and safety of employees exposed to vibration is accounted for.

A good vibration risk assessment should always:

  • Identify where there is a risk of vibration
  • Identify who is likely to be exposed to vibration
  • Contain an estimate of exposure to employees
  • Identify what actions need to be taken to comply with the law
  • Identify any employees who require health surveillance, monitoring, and checks

All findings must be included in the risk assessment. An action plan must be created that includes anything that may be necessary to comply with the law - such as moving equipment, improving insulation, or purchasing additional health and safety equipment for workers.

What to do Next?

If you're concerned about hand-arm vibration in your business, check out hse.gov.uk. There, you will find information for employers, including all legal information and helpful guides. There is also an exposure estimate chart that covers a wide variety of different tools.