Necessity and Considerations for On-Body Vibration Measurement Equipment
Recently, a key paper on the Necessity and Considerations for On-Body Vibration Measurement Equipment was published in MDPI. The paper reviews how strict adherence to the requirements of ISO 5349-1 may be inadequate to thoroughly understand the relationship between exposure to vibration in the workplace and diseases, like HAVS.
We’ve rounded up the key takeaways from this paper, below:
Key takeaway 1: Employers who attempt strict adherence to ISO 5349-1 may actually contribute to worse outcomes for workers
At present, the internationally accepted standard for measuring exposure to hand-arm vibration, ISO 5349-1, requires that vibration be measured where the vibrating tool comes into contact with a worker’s hand (i.e., the tool handle). Annex D to this standard also acknowledges, however, that there are other factors present in a real-world work environment that may contribute to the amount of vibration experienced by a given worker using a given tool that goes beyond what is measurable at the tool handle. These include tool condition, attachments used, operator posture, and grip force, just to name a few.
So, when employers base their risk management on vibration measurements taken on the tool as their one or only method of measuring the vibration experienced by a given worker, they’re not getting the entire picture. Said otherwise: tool-mounted vibration measurement - without more - is inadequate to reliably, representatively measure the amount of hand-arm vibration that a worker may be exposed to in a real-world environment. The upshot is that strict adherence to ISO 5349-1 may not provide the best outcomes for workers.
Key takeaway 2: Using vibration exposure data effectively to track a workers risk of hand-transmitted vibration is a key challenge to overcome in the fight against HAVS
It sounds straightforward: if you want to predict whether and to what extent a worker will experience hand-transmitted vibration, you would rely upon vibration exposure data to do it. But that only works when you have reliable, representative, and holistic data about an individual worker’s vibration exposure.
Employers who adhere strictly to the provisions of ISO 5349-1 - measuring vibration with tool-mounted devices only - simply don’t have access to the total universe of information required to make reliable predictions about a worker’s risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome.
This is why measurements from tool-mounted devices, in addition to devices worn on the body, are necessary for better future planning and risk management when it comes to hand arm vibration.
Key takeaway 3: On-body vibration measurement equipment offers a more reliable, more representative assessment of real-world, individual exposure to hand-arm vibration than tool-mounted devices alone
Exposure to hand-arm vibration (where vibration is measured on the vibrating surface, i.e., the tool) is calculated using a formula. The response of vibration measured on the wrist is an alternative method for evaluating vibration exposure. This estimation - also measured with a formula - was compared with the traditional formula in an experiment. The findings were compelling:
● The tool handle evaluation method cannot be used to evaluate the effects of vibration on the human body.
● It is reasonable to assume that the physical effects or damage caused by exposure to vibration for an individual worker depend to a large extent on how a given tool is actually held and used by a given worker.
● It is necessary to carry out vibration measurement in a form that takes Annex D factors - like operator posture - into consideration.
R-Link is a wrist-worn device purpose-built for harsh environments, such as construction and manufacturing. R-Link is designed to measure individual workers’ exposure to dangerous risk, including that from tool or equipment vibration. Further, R-Link can be used as part of your team’s compliance efforts: to understand exactly how R-Link should be integrated into your risk management programme, you can read this article here.
And to learn more about how R-Link can help you better understand your workers’ real-world risk environment, just reach out to a member of our expert team.