At work, hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools. It may cause significant damage to the blood vessels, nerves and joints resulting in painful and disabling disorders. Typical symptoms include tingling and numbness in the fingers, not being able to feel things properly, loss of strength in the hands and most commonly, ‘vibration white finger’ a condition when the fingers go white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery particularly in the cold and wet, and probably only in the tips at first.
There are hundreds of different types of handheld power tools and equipment which can cause ill health from vibration. Some of the more common ones are chainsaws, concrete breakers/road breakers, cut-off saws (for stone etc), hammer drills, handheld grinders, impact wrenches, jigsaws, polishers, power hammers and chisels, powered lawn mowers, powered sanders. Situations in which tools such as these would be used are for example, in light and heavy engineering, estate management, building and construction, motor manufacturing and repair and research laboratories. The University is involved in many of these work activities so it is important that staff are aware of and alert to the risk.