The Hazards of Vibration in the Construction Environment
Construction sites are where the dreams of architects and engineers come to life. But hidden among the hustle and bustle of construction workers lies a silent hazard – vibration.
Vibration from heavy machinery and other sources can pose a serious risk to workers' safety and health. If you're in the construction industry, you must recognise the potential risks associated with vibration exposure.
Let's look at the hazards of vibration and what you can do to protect your workers.
Types of Construction Vibration
In construction, vibration can be divided into two main categories: hand-arm vibration and whole-body vibration. Understanding the differences helps you better assess and manage the vibration risk in your construction environment.
Hand-arm vibration (HAV) occurs when workers use power tools or machines that vibrate while being held, such as:
- Electric drills
- Chipping hammers
- Nail guns
While these tools are necessary for many jobs, prolonged exposure to HAV can lead to a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Whole Body Vibration
Whole body vibration (WBV) is where the whole body is exposed to vibrations. The movement of machinery or vehicles usually causes this form of vibration. It can be experienced while:
- Riding in a truck
- Operating heavy equipment like bulldozers
- Working on scaffolds that vibrate due to nearby equipment
There is evidence that prolonged exposure to WBV can lead to health problems, such as back pain and fatigue.
Health Hazards of Prolonged Vibration Exposure
Working on a construction site is not without its hazards. However, vibration is often overlooked and can have severe consequences if not managed correctly.
Prolonged exposure to HAV and WBV can both lead to various health problems, such as:
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)
- Impaired grip strength
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Vascular issues and hearing loss
- Chronic back pain and fatigue
- Vibration white finger (where the fingertips become pale or white due to reduced blood flow)
- Motion sickness
Alongside these health risks, vibration can also cause damage to tools and equipment, leading to costly repairs or replacements. It can also reduce the quality of workmanship and products.
Not to mention, prolonged exposure to vibration can contribute to increased construction dust and debris. This can cause serious health problems for your workers, like lung cancer.
How To Minimise Vibration Hazards
The best way to minimise vibration risks is to identify, assess and control the vibration sources in your construction environment.
All workers using vibration-associated equipment must complete the correct Noise and Vibration training. Doing this will ensure workers know the risks and provide them with the necessary guidelines and procedures to reduce exposure.
One example of this is our Noise and Vibration course. Throughout the course, workers will discover the regulations surrounding this (Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005), vibration risks, how we measure noise and vibration, and the health effects.
By providing workers with this knowledge, you can help to reduce the risk of vibration hazards in your construction environment.
In addition to training, suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used. This includes gloves, helmets and other protective gear. Regular maintenance of tools and machinery should also be carried out to reduce vibration levels.
Vibration from heavy machinery or other sources can pose a serious risk to workers' health and safety. It's important to ensure everyone knows the risks and takes steps to minimise vibration exposure. With the correct training, you can help reduce the hazards of vibration in your construction environment.
Get started today by enrolling on one of our Noise and Vibration training courses – take the first step to creating a safe, healthy and productive construction environment!