Tools. Vehicles. Heavy equipment. They take a toll on the body.
It’s a normal part of any tradies day. Picking up the power tools or jumping in the truck and getting stuck in. It’s so normal that many don’t recognise the potential harm we are exposing our bodies to through the vibrations they give off.
But, it is something that you should start thinking about and being aware of.
How are workers harmed?
Vibrations are a natural part of working on any construction site. Many of the most commonly used items give off some form of vibration. With that said the most common ways tradies are exposed to vibrations are:
- Power tools
- Trucks and machinery
- From our working surfaces being exposed to vibrations (including break or smoko areas)
While these are the most common forms of exposure, the below should also be considered:
- Working in cold and damp conditions
- Increased grip force
- Working with power tools for extended periods of time
Early warning signs
We understand that for many tradies, working with vibrations is a natural and unavoidable part of the job. With that in mind, there are a few warning signs and symptoms of overexposure to keep an eye out for:
- Tingling and numbness in your finger (which can lead to distributions to your sleep patterns – not ideal!)
- Loss of feeling in your fingers
- Loss of strength, both grip and holding, in your hands
- Fingers turning white and red when working in cold/ wet conditions
What you can do to manage risk
It is up to everyone on-site to look out for each other. Consultation with your team should take place to make sure an environment can be created where excessive exposure to vibrations are eliminated or minimised.
Below are simple yet effective ways to either eliminate or minimise the effects.
- Use suitable low vibration power tools where possible
- Use the right tool for the job – don’t use a power tool to get the job done faster when it is not required. Enjoy the task, don’t rush
- Look after your tools, trucks and machinery – get them serviced regularly, repair any breaks or faults as soon as possible and store them properly – keep them out of the cold and rain
- Avoid gripping or being too forceful with a tool
- Keep your body moving and take a break if needed
- Wear the correct equipment and clothing
Above all else, be aware that vibrations can be extremely harmful, especially when you’re exposed for lengthy periods of time.
Your best tool for minimising the effects of vibrations is to start a conversation with your boss, or your team, and put steps in place to look out for each other and your equipment.