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Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – The Risks and How To Manage Them

What is HAVS?

Hand – Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a condition related to the consistent use of tools or equipment that operate with a level of vibration. The condition commonly shows as “white finger” or carpal tunnel syndrome. Nerve damage and restricted blood flow to the hands and fingers can occur and as a result, can cause the condition HAVS.
To help reduce the effects and minimize the damage that can be caused, regulations are in place to help you manage the time you are using those tools.

Vibration Magnitude:

Rates of vibration a tool gives are measured in meters per second. Multiple tests are taken, and an average of at least 3 tests will determine the vibration magnitude.
Suppliers must provide this information with their equipment.

Exposure points and what they mean:

Exposure points are given to help calculate the number of hours per working day (8 hours) you can use a certain range of tools.

EAV – 100 exposure points per day.
Exposure Action Value (EAV) is the daily amount of vibration exposure, which is considered acceptable in the short term. During which you are required to take action to reduce the risks moving forward.

ELV – 400 exposure points per day.
Exposure Limit Value (ELV) is the maximum amount of vibration you may be exposed to on a single day and must not be exceeded. Once the maximum limit is reached you must stop using all tools and equipment with any level of vibration.

100 – 399 Exposure points require you to take action and look at the risks. Until you reach 400 points you can continue to use the tool with awareness of how to control and reduce risks.

Vibration exposure point traffic light system


A vibration level of less than 2.5m/s² means you can safely use your tool for up to 8 hours per day.
A vibration level of 5m/s² means you can safely use your tool for up to 2 hours per day.
A vibration level of 10m/s² means you can safely use your tool for up to 30 minutes per day.

Guide to control and reduce the risks:

  • Explore tools with a lower vibration magnitude that can still achieve the job at hand
  • Find tools that will help the efficiency of the task (a tool that is too small or underpowered may take longer and ultimately, expose you to more vibration than necessary)
  • Limit the use of high vibration tools where possible
  • Check air installation to ensure there is a proper flow to your equipment
  • Rotate the job between co-workers to help control the hours spent with equipment
  • Have your tools serviced regularly to minimise vibration levels

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Our calculator below can help you see how many points you are accumulating per day and how many hours you can use the tool to reduce the effects of HAVS.