Vibration - Action plan

Action Plan for Health and Safety Reps

A strategy to prevent work related injury and illness must be aimed at modifying the workplace - controlling the hazard at source - rather than modifying, screening or excluding workers from the workplace.

  1. Talk to your members to find out if they are having a problem. This could be done by asking the members to fill out the "Vibration Survey", which can be downloaded here.

    The completed survey can be analysed in many different ways. The simplest procedure is to count up the total number of answers beside each condition, and express this as a proportion (e.g. a percentage) or the total number of people returning. For example say there were 40 people responding, and 30 said they suffered from indigestion; then 30 out of 40, or 75 per cent, is the proportion suffering from indigestion. By common consent, this is a high proportion, and would indicate a problem in the workplace.

    There are other ways to find out whether vibration is a problem, for example by doing a Mapping exercise - you can get more information by going to the Tool Kit section of this site.

    Given recent (2020) Swedish research that women exposed  to WBV at or above the European action limit of 0.5 m/s (mainly truck drivers, forklift and heavy machine operators) working full time had an increased risk of both preeclampsia, gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes, it is important that any women workers who may be pregnant are identified and moved out of these jobs.

  2. If you identify vibration as a problem, then approach your employer to negotiate changes to the workplace. The usual 'hierarchy of control' should be followed, that is: 1) Eliminate or substitute; 2) Engineering; 3) Administrative; and 4) PPE. What this might mean in regard to vibration is as follows:

    • Elimination: Purchasing of non-vibrating products and tools
    • Substitution of high vibration tools with better designed low vibration tools (eg non pneumatic power tools, use of cushioning or spring grips or rubber shock absorbers to reduce kick-back);

    • Provision of vibration absorbing and ergonomically designed seats to give proper postural support and comfort; improvement of suspension of cabs and existing seats in vehicles;

    • Installation of engineering controls on vibrating machinery (eg mounting machine on a heavy base, using insulating mountings, sinking machine into a pit; use of vibration dampeners);

    • Proper and regular maintenance of all vehicles, machinery and tools;

    • Introduction of administrative procedures (job and/or equipment rotation and regular rest breaks);

    • Provision of gloves;

    • Provision of training on how to prevent health problems caused by vibration.

    Further, the following should be implemented:

    • Regular environmental monitoring to check effectiveness of control methods.

    • Acceptance of internationally recognised standards as maximum exposure limits:

      • HAV - amplitude of one m/s2 over a four hour period;

      • Very low frequency vibration - amplitude of 0.25 m/s2 over an eight hour period;

      • WBV - amplitude of  0.5 m/s2 over an eight hour period.

  3. As part of broader consultations with your employer, check what is being done to ensure that the Manual Handling, Plant and Noise parts of the OHS Regulations are being complied with.

    Last amended June 2020