Safe Work Australia in effort to combat vibration injury


Push to reduce exposure to debilitating effects that hit thousands of workers

Safe Work Australia in effort to combat vibration injury
Safe Work Australia has vibration injury in its sights.

 

Transport and logistics industry is among Safe Work Australia’s (SWA’s) target industries in a campaign against vibration-related injuries.

The safety watchdog has released guidance material for companies and workers saying that 5,260 workers’ compensation claims for injuries or illness attributed to exposure to vibration have occurred over the past 14 years.

SWA puts the cost at $134 million in compensation payments over that time.

Other industries include mining, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, trades and utilities.

"Safe Work Australia has released guidance material and technical information about managing the risks associated with vibrating plant to increase awareness and help workplaces manage this hazard," CEO Michelle Baxter says.

The guidance material includes general guides and information sheets for workers and those managing workers who are or may be exposed to vibration.

There are also guides to help work health and safety professionals measure and assess vibration in workplaces.

The two main types of vibration are hand-arm vibration (HAV) and whole-body vibration (WBV).

Exposure normally occurs while operating powered hand held or hand guided machinery such as angle grinders, drills, jackhammers and chainsaws or while travelling in vehicles.  

The effects of HAV can impact a worker’s long-term health and may include white finger, carpel tunnel syndrome, occupational overuse syndrome, sensory nerve damage and muscle and joint damage in the hands and arms.

The longer a worker is exposed to WBV, the greater the risk of causing or worsening health effects and musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back pain, motion sickness, bone damage, heart stomach and digestive conditions, respiratory, endocrine and metabolic changes, impairment of vision or balance and reproductive organ damage.

The workplace vibration guidance material available from the Safe Work Australia website includes:

  • Guide to measuring and assessing workplace exposure to hand-arm vibration
  • Guide to measuring and assessing workplace exposure to whole-body vibration
  • Guide to managing the risks of exposure to hand-arm vibration in workplaces
  • Guide to managing the risks of exposure to whole-body vibration in workplaces
  • Information sheet: hand-arm vibration
  • Information sheet: whole-body vibration.

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