Why is vibration a problem in construction work?

The construction industry is a high risk industry for vibration related ill health. The main risk is from the use of hand held vibrating tools such as breakers, hammer drills / combihammers or scabblers. Use of hand held hammer or rotary action vibrating tools can lead to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) if not correctly controlled.

As a rough guide, if workers regularly use hammer action power tools for more than 15 minutes per day, or rotary or other action power tools for more than about an hour per day, there may be a problem with exposure to hand-arm vibration. If workers complain of tingling in their hands that lasts for 10 minutes or more after use of a power tool, this may also indicate a problem.

Quality of life can be badly affected by hand-arm vibration syndrome. For some people symptoms appear after only a few months of exposure but for others it may take years. For example, affected people may find that:

	They suffer tingling and numbness in the fingers, or pain, distress or disturbed sleep;

	They cannot feel things properly or do fine work (e.g. assembling small components) or everyday tasks (e.g. fastening buttons);

	They lose strength in the hands, for example reduced grip strength or reduced ability to work in cold or damp conditions, which might affect their ability to work safely;

	Their fingers go white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery.