What is Hand Arm Vibration Toolbox Talk?

A hand arm vibration toolbox talk focuses on the potential hazards and associated risks when working with vibrating tools and what can be done to reduce those risks. Vibration can result in severe injury to your hands when using power equipment’s like grinders, chippers, chainsaws, jack hammers, drill motors, sorting conveyors, crushers, mowers and other tool if they are used for longer time periods. Workers in the industries of manufacturing, construction, stone cutters, forestry, shipyards, agriculture & food processing industries are most likely exposed to hand arm vibration because of their tools. Excessive contact with and use of vibrating tools can result in Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), Whole Body Vibration and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

How to Conduct an Efficient Hand Arm Vibration Toolbox Talk

In this aspect, it is the responsibility of the supervisors and line managers to monitor the daily vibration exposure of their workers. Hence, it is necessary to conduct a hand arm vibration toolbox talk, also known as a HAVS Toolbox Talk, for the safety of an organisation’s employees. A hand arm vibration toolbox talk should include the rationale behind conducting this toolbox talk, the concept of HAVS, what causes it and how it can be prevented. Workers that regularly use high vibration hand tools such as Jack Hammers, Drills, Wacker plates etc. are particularly at risk of HAVS. The supervisor must clearly explain to the workers about the concept of HAVS which is a disabling and quite painful condition affecting the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hands and arms. One of the most common cases is Vibration White Finger (VWF) which causes a person’s fingers to become constantly white. A person subject to HAVS experiences numbness and tingling in the fingers, reduced grip strength and the sense of touch. The employees must be made fully aware of the fact that it is a disabling condition affecting their work ability and they cannot enjoy a normal personal and social life with this condition.

Now the reassuring fact about HAVS is that it can be prevented. However, timely recognition and reporting of symptoms plays a crucial role in this regard because the disease can turn out to be very serious and can become permanent if the symptoms are overlooked. Basically, any tool through which vibration can be transmitted to the hand can cause it. But people especially at risk are the ones using concrete breakers, angle grinders, chipping hammers, chainsaws, vibratory compactors, vibrating pokers, hammer drills, needle guns, sanders, jigsaws, scabblers and riveting tools.

Furthermore, supervisors must be aware of the fact that how long people can use their tools for the given tasks. There must be a vibration rating defined for all vibrating equipment and the supervisor must be aware of and track when each tool is being used. This way the safe time for vibration exposure can be calculated and control measures can be implemented. The supervisor must ensure to identify the appropriate time duration in which workers can use their hand tools. If this is unknown, the tools must be evaluated and acceptable time intervals defined.

Preventing HAVS

In terms of prevention, anti-vibration gloves should be considered as they are helpful in dispersing the vibration over a much wider hand area. The supervisor must clearly inform the workers that if possible, a change of hands is a useful prevention, or even better, consider using a tool which has less vibration or none at all.

In order to reduce individual exposure, tasks must be rotated among various crew members for their health and safety. Likewise, the supervisor must emphasize to maintain a proper record of how long the tools are being used by each individual. In this way, for each day all employees will be fully aware of how long specific tools can be used. The toolbox talk must cover the importance of designing work breaks in order to avoid the usage of vibrating tool for long periods of time. For ensuring satisfactory blood flow the workers must be advised to exercise their fingers and hands. During a hand arm vibration toolbox talk, the significance of reporting any symptoms should be emphasised. Last but not the least, it is also the responsibility of the supervisor to inform the employees that faulty equipment must be reported immediately as they often can cause greater levels of vibration.

If you need to provide a toolbox talk on safety when using vibrating tools, then our HAVS Toolbox Talk might be of interest to you.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a range of ready to deliver toolbox talks, then we have a range of toolbox talk packages available which include range of toolbox talks at a cost effective price.

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