Vibration - Occupational - Introduction
Occupational exposure to vibration can be divided into
Before considering them separately the legislative background to both can be considered jointly.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 create general duties and obligations on employees, employers and indeed makers of machinery; all have to consider the mechanisms whereby risks to workers, including vibration damage, can be reduced.
The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 1992 (as amended) apply to manufacturers if a wide range of types of machinery - "Machinery must be so designed and constructed that risks resulting from vibrations produced by the machinery are reduced to the lowest level, taking account of technical progress and the availability of means of reducing vibration, in particular at source". In particular makers of portable hand-held and hand-guided machinery must state the weighted root mean square acceleration value, to which arms are subjected, if it exceeds 2.5 m/s². In fact even if the vibration levels are less than 2.5 m/s², measurements will probably have been performed in order to determine this.
There is currently a draft European Directive on the exposure of workers to mechanical vibrations. This document sets out maximum vibration exposure limits and action levels for both hand-arm and whole-body vibration. Exposing unprotected workers to levels above the maximum limit is deemed to be unacceptable; whereas levels in excess of the action levels triggers various duties for both employers and employees. In the current draft employers will be required make assessments, and if necessary measurements, of the vibration; such work should be "competently planned and carried out a suitable intervals".
The directory can be consulted for details of suppliers of suitable instrumentation and/or consultants able to carry out vibration measurements and assessments.