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Introduction to this document

Hand-arm vibration tool register

Hand-arm vibration syndrome is a debilitating condition caused by excessive use of hand-held powered equipment. When managing the risk, the first step is to record details of your equipment on a register.

The tool register

The first column asks the “Type of tool being used”. This could be anything from a small piece of equipment, e.g. battery drill, to something more substantial e.g. a pressure washer. Some of the most vibrating hand-held tools are concrete breakers and jack hammers.

Next is the “Vibration magnitude” of the tool. Vibration is measured in m/s2 (metres per second per second, or metres per second squared). This is the measure of how many small movements the tool makes in a second. To find out the vibration emissions, first check on the tool itself, quite often it will have this information on a sticker on the casing. If not you should be able to locate it in the user manual.

Warning.  If a tool has changeable attachments you should list it several times with each attachment detailed on a separate row. Manufacturers and suppliers should provide data for each one.

Manufacturers and suppliers have been required to supply vibration magnitude information with the tool since 2009. If you have older tools you may need to contact your supplier for the information. It may be time to start thinking about updating your tools entirely. Most modern tools have been designed with vibration in mind and the values, i.e. the risk, will tend to be much lower than with older equipment.

Risk calculations

“Exposure points per hour” is the heading of column five. It’s a concept created by the HSE to make it easier to understand and manage the risk. By using this system staff can use several different tools in a day and still have a reasonably good understanding of how much vibration risk they are exposed to, and more importantly know when they need to stop using vibrating tools. To find out the exposure points, use the HSE’s “Hand-arm vibration exposure calculator”

After completion

Once the columns are all completed, enter your name and the date at the end. We’ve provided further rows for future reviews because this document will need a frequent refresh. Review it whenever new tools or equipment are purchased or when different attachments are put into use.

The completed document can be used as a quick reference guide to help in the management of hand-arm vibration risks. You might wish to display it in a prominent place were supervisors and staff can refer to it.