Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a industrial injury that is caused by continuous exposure to vibrations from hand held tools or machinery such as grinders, disc sanders, random orbital sanders etc. Prolonged exposure to vibration transmitted from tools to the body can damage the blood vessels, nerves and tendons in the fingers, hand and wrist. Vibration related injuries can leave the sufferer with reduced sensitivity, strength and dexterity. Once these conditions take hold, they are irreversible.
The Health and Safety Executive has brought in legislation called 'The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005', which came into force on 6 July 2006. These regulations introduce actions and limit values for hand-arm vibration. Companies are encouraged to find ways to eliminate, reduce or substitute tasks involving high levels of vibration. Careful selection of working methods, tools and consumables can significantly reduce the levels of vibration.
Tools selection and design is important, they should be of the appropriate size and power for the task. Selecting the right abrasive product also helps towards reducing the level of time an operator is exposed to the tools. High-performance abrasives that have a high cut rate enables workers to complete task faster whilst using less pressure will help reduce risks.
3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives work up to twice as fast as conventional alternatives. The smooth cutting action requires less operator pressure, and completing the job faster enabled by the faster cutting abrasive will lead to reduced operator time on the tool. The power of 3M Precision Shaped Ceramic Grain means a conventional bonded wheel can be replaced with a 3M™ Cubitron™ II fibre disc, even on tough jobs like weld removal, this switch of abrasive wheel to a less rigid construction of a fibre disc can also help reduce vibration exposure.
3M has been working closely with Bombardier at their Ilford heavy maintenance services site to help them strike an effective balance between a safe working environment and optimum levels of productivity.
A particular area of focus for Bombardier has been to reduce hand-arm vibration, as many of the maintenance and repair staff regularly use hand grinding, drilling, sanding, polishing and spraying tools. “We set the maximum exposure limit to hand‑arm vibration at just a quarter of the limit recommended by the Health and Safety Executive,” explains Colin McCann. “Although this protects our staff it also means that we need to be as productive as possible when using this type of equipment. That’s where 3M is able to step in.” Bombardier use 3M™ Cubitron™ II Bonded Abrasive Grinding and Cut-off Wheels and 3M's Random Orbital Sanders.
Learn more on how 3M are working with Bombardier, click here
Dust exposure from abrasive processes can trigger inflammation, allergic reactions and respiratory problems
Find out how 3M™ Cubitron™ II technology can help reduce exposure to airborne dust.
The selection of abrasive tools, products and systems have a significant impact on the noise generated when operating tools.
Switching abrasive products can be one way to help reduce abrasive noise levels.
Working with abrasive equipment can cause injury by direct or indirect contact. Always use machine guards, use the right product for the application, ensure the abrasive is fitted correctly and wear appropriate PPE.
Faster cutting and cooler running abrasives that require less operator pressure can help towards a safer workplace.