Vibration Assessments

Vibration Assessments ECL Banner

Regular vibration assessments are very important due to there being more than 2 million people in the UK that risk suffering from painful and disabling disorders of nerves, joints and blood vessels as a result of the exposure to vibrations within the working environment.

Vibration Regulations are in place in the UK to ensure workers are protected from excessive vibration when operating handheld power tools or drivable machinery in the workplace, which could result in long term health issues including back pain.

In this article we’ll explain all considerations and actions that can be taken to mitigate such risks.


What Is A Workplace Vibration Assessment?

A workplace vibration assessment, which can consist of both a Hand-Arm Vibration Assessment or Whole-Body Vibration Assessment, are systematic evaluations of the levels of vibration present in a workplace environment.

They are conducted to identify, assess and mitigate the potential risks associated with exposure to vibration and to implement appropriate control measures to protect workers’ health and safety.

These assessments helps create a safer and healthier working environment and minimise the occurrence of work-related injuries and illnesses.

There are two main types of workplace vibrations that are typically evaluated:

Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV)

Hand-arm vibration refers to the vibration transmitted from hand-held power tools, machinery, or equipment to the hands and arms of workers. Prolonged exposure to hand-arm vibrations can lead to a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome, which includes symptoms such as numbness, tingling, reduced grip strength, and vascular and musculoskeletal disorders.

Whole-Body Vibration (WBV)

Whole-body vibration refers to the vibration transmitted to the entire body through the seat or feet while operating or being near vibrating machinery or vehicles. Prolonged exposure to whole-body vibrations can lead to various health issues, including back pain, musculoskeletal disorders, and fatigue.


Why Is Are Vibration Assessments Important?

Workplace vibration assessments are crucial for several reasons, such as safeguarding worker health, ensuring legal compliance, managing risks, and promoting a safe and productive work environment.

By proactively addressing vibration-related hazards, businesses can protect their employees, mitigate financial risks, and demonstrate their commitment to occupational health and safety:

  • Worker Health and Safety: One of the primary reasons for conducting a vibration assessment is to protect the health and safety of workers. Prolonged exposure to excessive vibrations can lead to various health issues, such as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), musculoskeletal disorders, back pain, and fatigue. By identifying and assessing vibration levels, employers can implement appropriate control measures to prevent or minimize these health risks, ensuring the well-being of their employees.
  • Legal Compliance: Many countries have regulations and standards in place to protect workers from the harmful effects of workplace vibrations. Conducting a vibration assessment helps employers meet their legal obligations and comply with relevant health and safety regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences, penalties, and damage to the organization’s reputation.
  • Cost Savings: Investing in a vibration assessment and implementing control measures can lead to cost savings in the long run. By preventing health issues related to vibrations, businesses can avoid medical expenses, compensation claims, and potential litigation. Additionally, minimising vibration-related downtime or work disruptions improves operational efficiency and reduces financial losses.
  • Employee Engagement and Morale: Prioritising the health and safety of employees through a vibration assessment demonstrates a commitment to their well-being. This fosters a positive work environment, improves employee morale, and enhances engagement. Workers who feel valued and protected are more likely to be motivated, productive, and loyal to the organisation.


Who Requires A Workplace Vibration Assessment?

Workplace vibration assessments may be necessary for organisations across various industries where workers are exposed to hand-arm or whole-body vibrations.

The specific requirements for a vibration assessment can vary depending on the country, industry, and applicable regulations. However, some common scenarios where a workplace vibration assessment is typically required include:

  • Construction Industry: Construction workers often use hand-held power tools and machinery that generate vibrations, such as concrete breakers, jackhammers, and power saws. 
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Settings: Industries involving machinery and equipment that produce vibrations, such as metalworking, foundries, mining, and assembly lines, may require vibration assessments. 
  • Transportation and Automotive Sectors: Workers operating or being exposed to vibrating vehicles, such as truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, and forklift operators, may require vibration assessments. 
  • Mining and Quarrying: Workers in mining and quarrying industries are often exposed to machinery and equipment that generate significant vibrations. 
  • Agriculture and Forestry: Vibrating machinery used in agricultural activities, such as chainsaws, brush cutters, and tractors, can expose workers to hand-arm vibrations. Similarly, forestry workers operating heavy machinery and equipment may be exposed to whole-body vibrations.


What Are The UK Regulations For Vibration Assessments?

In the UK, workplace vibration assessments are governed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) covered in the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 implements the Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive (2002/44/EC).

The aim of these regulations are to ensure that the health of employees is suitably protected from vibration exposure received at work.

The Regulations require employers to:

  • Assess the risks to employees from exposure to vibration at work
  • Take action to eliminate the vibration risk at source or reduce the risk to as low a level as is reasonably practicable
  • Provide health surveillance for employees whose health is identified as at risk from vibration exposure
  • Provide information, instruction and training to employees whose health is identified as at risk from vibration exposure.

It’s important for employers to consult the full text of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and any subsequent updates or guidance provided by the HSE to ensure compliance with the specific requirements related to workplace vibration assessments in the UK.

Here are some key points regarding the UK vibration assessment regulations:

Exposure Action Values (EAVs) and Exposure Limit Values (ELVs)

The regulations define specific exposure action values and exposure limit values for both hand-arm and whole-body vibrations.

  • Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV): The exposure action value for hand-arm vibrations is a daily A(8) value of 2.5 m/s², and the exposure limit value is a daily A(8) value of 5.0 m/s². Employers must take action if exposures exceed the action value and implement more stringent measures if exposures approach or exceed the limit value.
  • Whole-Body Vibration (WBV): The exposure action value for whole-body vibrations is a daily A(8) value of 0.5 m/s², and the exposure limit value is a daily A(8) value of 1.15 m/s². Similar to hand-arm vibrations, employers must take action if exposures exceed the action value and implement further measures if exposures approach or exceed the limit value.

Workplace Vibration Assessments

The regulations require employers to conduct a vibration risk assessment to assess the level of vibration exposure in the workplace. The assessment should consider factors such as the duration and magnitude of exposure, vibration characteristics, and the number of workers affected. It should also identify workers who may be at particular risk and determine appropriate control measures.

Health Surveillance

UK regulations stipulate that employers should provide health surveillance for employees who are exposed to hand-arm or whole-body vibrations at or above the action values. Health surveillance may involve regular medical assessments to monitor and detect early signs of vibration-related health issues.

Vibration Control Measures

Employers are required to implement appropriate control measures to reduce vibration exposure and protect workers. Control measures may include selecting low-vibration equipment, providing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE), implementing engineering controls, such as vibration isolation or damping, and adopting safe work practices.

Vibration Information, Training, and Instruction

Employers must provide workers with adequate information, training, and instruction on the risks associated with vibration exposure, the measures in place to control exposure, and the proper use of equipment and personal protective measures.

Record Keeping

Employers are also required to maintain records of vibration assessments, health surveillance results, and control measures implemented. These records should be kept for at least five years and made available to employees, safety representatives, and regulatory authorities.


What Does A Vibration Assessment Involve?

A workplace vibration assessment involves several steps to evaluate and manage the risks associated with hand-arm or whole-body vibrations.

The specific process may vary depending on the industry and the complexity of the work environment. However, here are the key components typically involved in the workplace vibration assessments we conduct:

  • Initial Assessment: The assessment begins with a review of relevant information, including equipment, processes, and tasks that involve potential vibration exposure. This includes identifying the types of machinery, tools, vehicles, or equipment used and determining the duration and frequency of vibration exposure. The first step is to identify the equipment, machinery, or processes that generate vibrations in the workplace. This includes hand-held power tools, machinery, vehicles, or any other equipment that produces vibrations.
  • Measurement and Data Collection: Vibration levels are measured using specialised equipment such as vibration meters or accelerometers. Measurements are taken at relevant locations on equipment or workstations where workers are likely to be exposed to vibrations. Data collection may involve both instantaneous measurements and measurements over longer periods to assess exposure levels accurately. The vibration levels are then measured at relevant locations on the equipment and at different workstations. 
  • Analysis of Vibration Data: The collected vibration data is analysed to determine the level of exposure and identify potential risks. This analysis includes comparing the measured vibration levels with the relevant exposure limits or action values specified in UK regulations and guidelines. The analysis also considers factors such as vibration frequency, duration, and magnitude.
  • Vibration Risk Assessment: Based on the vibration data analysis, a risk assessment is conducted to evaluate the potential health risks to workers. This assessment considers factors such as the duration and intensity of vibration exposure, the specific tasks performed, and individual susceptibility. The risk assessment helps determine the severity of the risk and identify workers who may be particularly vulnerable to vibration-related health issues. 
  • Control Measures: Control measures are recommended based on the risk assessments findings. These measures aim to eliminate or at least minimise  vibration exposure and reduce the associated health risks. Control measures can include engineering controls, like using vibration-damped tools or modifying equipment design, administrative controls such as job rotation, work scheduling, and rest breaks, and the provision of personal protective equipment like anti-vibration gloves or seats. 
  • Documentation and Reporting: A comprehensive report is then prepared summarising all findings of the vibration assessment, including the measurement data, risk assessment results, and recommended control measures. This documentation serves as a record of compliance, and it may be required for regulatory purposes or internal management systems.
  • Monitoring and Review: Regular monitoring and review of vibration levels and control measures are important to ensure ongoing compliance and effectiveness. Periodic reassessment may be necessary to account for any changes in equipment, work practices, or regulations that could impact vibration exposure. 


Your Experts In Workplace Vibration Assessments

If you’re concerned about the potential risks of workplace vibration to your employees’ health and well-being, our experienced Occupational Hygienists specialise in comprehensive workplace vibration assessments.

Our expert team is dedicated to helping businesses ensure a safe and healthy working environment by identifying and managing the potential hazards associated with Workplace Vibrations, Workplace Noise and Occupational Air Quality.

Using our state-of-the-art equipment and extensive knowledge, ECL provide accurate assessments and practical recommendations to mitigate risks effectively and ensure that all assessments are conducted in accordance with relevant UK regulations and best practices.

Our team consists of highly skilled and experienced professionals who have a deep understanding of workplace vibrations and their impact on employee health. We stay up-to-date with the latest UK regulations and guidelines to ensure compliance and deliver accurate assessments.

We understand that every workplace is unique, and each industry has specific requirements. That’s why we tailor all of our vibration assessment services to meet your businesses individual needs. We take into account the nature of your operations, the types of machinery and equipment used, and the applicable regulations to deliver customised solutions, ensuring that your organisation remains compliant with the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations, helping you avoid potential legal issues and penalties.

At ECL, we believe in building long-term partnerships with our clients. Our commitment extends beyond the initial assessment, we provide ongoing support and assistance to help you implement the recommended control measures and are available to address any concerns or questions you may have throughout the process.

Call us on 01443 801215 or fill out our Enquiry Form for any queries regarding Local Exhaust Ventilation Testing, COSHH Regulations, DSEAR Assessments, Vibration Assessments or any of our many other Environmental, Air Quality or Occupational Hygiene services.