Just one incident of exposure to severe vibration can cause injury or affect health – but it’s often exposure over a period of time which leads to long-term, and sometimes irreversible, problems.
Early symptoms of vibration-related illnesses include tingling and numbness of fingers, not being able to feel things properly, back pain, loss of strength in hands and fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery. Employers and workers must be aware of these symptoms because they can lead to further issues, like sleep deprivation, reduced grip and an inability to do fine work.
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations place responsibility on employers to control vibration hazards. Vibration is often neglected in the workplace as the sources can be integral to a worker’s everyday role. For instance, some workers are exposed to whole-body vibration (WBV) on a regular basis by using mobile machines or vehicles. For others, using hand-held power tools could expose them to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Both types can cause debilitating health problems.