Vibration Testing is crucial for workers’ safety in Australia. The 2018-2019 Safe Work Australia statistics state that from the total compensation provided to the workers, 87% was for musculoskeletal disorders, and 40% for joint, ligament, muscle, and tendon injuries.
A vibration test is an assessment to identify the various machine parts that cause vibrations and affect the health of workers handling them. It also involves finding employees exposed more to the vibrations, impact on the whole body or hand-arm, etc.
Based on the result, occupational hygienists provide solutions to protect workers from exposure to vibrations and shocks.
Need for Vibration Testing
In Australia, workers handling different types of engineering machinery, logistics, electronics and automotive product, and working in manufacturing industries, are exposed to vibrations and shocks that can harm their health. Hence, it is essential to assess the equipment, overcome defects, and enhance it to less disastrous impact on workers’ health. Vibration Testing is thus essential and done across Australia to promote workers’ health.
Types of Vibration Tests
Below given are the different types of Vibration Tests Occupational Hygienists perform in Australia:
- Sinusoidal Vibration.
- Random Vibration.
- Sine on Random Vibration.
- Combined Temperature and Vibration Testing.
- Accelerated Life Testing (HALT).
- ESS Vibration Testing.
- SRS (Shock Response Spectrum) Analysis.
A laboratory performing test follows guidelines provided by Safe Work Australia. They must practice utmost accuracy and precision while performing them. A computer software-controlled test can help in saving time.
We have also listed below the standard Shock Tests:
- Repetitive Shock Test.
- Half Sine Shock Pulse.
- Saw Tooth Shock Pulse.
- Trapezoid Shock Pulse.
Types of Occupational Vibrations
It is essential to know the types of Occupational Vibrations to nullify or reduce their impact on workers’ health. There are two types of vibrations affecting industrial workers’ health and responsible for occupational diseases:
Whole Body-Vibrations are caused due to the human body’s motion caused due to machine vibrations. The various body parts can contract or expand to adjust to the vibrations causing physical distress. The vibrations are
transmitted through standing, seating as well as lying positions. These cause severe health issues in the workers’ health and need to be eradicated or overcome.
Hand Arm Vibration (HAV)
Hand Arm Vibration involves hands or legs, and it is transferred through hand or power tools like grinders, chainsaws, water pressure washers, machining, jackhammers, and gardening equipment.
Health Hazards Caused by Vibrations
1. Whole-Body Vibrations
Whole Body vibration has long-term and short terms effects on workers’ health. Below listed are the health hazards caused by Whole Body Vibrations on workers’ health:
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Spinal disc damage or herniated disc
- Gastric Interference & Digestion issues
- Changes in Metabolic and Endocrine systems
- Respiratory changes
- Damage to female reproductive systems
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty in performing the task
2. Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV)
Hand-Arm Vibration causes below health hazards among workers:
- Tingling sensation and numb fingers.
- Blanching of the phalanges White Hand Syndrome.
- Improper blood circulation.
- Sign of Stiffnesses and pain in joints and muscles due to friction.
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
- Sensory Nerve damage.
Safe Work Australia 2018-2019 stats on workplace injury are a wake-up call for businesses to implement strict control measures to safeguard workers’ health. We have listed some based on the type of vibration.
1. Whole-Body Vibrations
- Maintaining machinery and monitoring the equipment surface, and engine speed.
- Reducing whole-body vibrations from rotating parts, train tracks, and the road surface.
- Testing the seat’s vibration dampening effect.
- Optimise new seats design such as cushioning or padding to suppress vibration transmission to the
- Use high-quality machines.
2. Hand-Arm Vibration
- Use of non-pneumatic low vibration tools as a substitute wherever it is feasible.
- Make use of the right tools and methodology to do the job accurately while taking care of your posture.
- Check tools before using them to ensure they have been adequately maintained to avoid increased Vibration caused by faults.
- Ensure cutting tools are sharpened at regular intervals to remain efficient.
- Do other jobs in between to break the continually doing one job for a long time.
- Educate and train employers on the correct use of the equipment and technology.
- Personal Protective Equipment to be provided that comprises warm clothes to prevent cold and damp situations from further increasing the risk.
Australian Standards for Vibration Testing
Below are the Australian Standards with methods to measure and test Hand-Arm Vibration and Whole-Body Vibration Exposure.
1. AS ISO 5349.1-2013 Mechanical vibration – Measurement and evaluation of human exposure to hand-transmitted Vibration – General requirements.
2. AS 2670.1-2001 Evaluation of human exposure to whole-body Vibration – General requirements
Vibration Exposure Standards
Below given are the Vibration Exposure Standards for both Whole-Body Vibration and Hand-Arm Vibration
1. Whole Body Vibration
The standard RMS values for Whole Body Vibrations are below 0.4 m/s2 as the caution zone and 0.85 m/s2 as the exposure limit value. The frequency weighting of Whole-Body Vibrations and Hand-Arm Vibrations’ RMS results have different frequency weighing.
Vibration Dose Value (VDV) is another parameter used to measure shocks, jars, and jolts under Whole-Body Vibrations. Its Warning zone value must be below 8.5 m/s1.75, and the Exposure limit value is 17 m/s1.75.
2. Hand-Arm Vibration
Hand-Arm Vibration has results given in Mean Square (RMS) acceleration in meters per second square (m/s2). Each measured Vibration is assigned a frequency weighting as some hazardous frequencies are more dangerous than others.
In Hand-Arm’s Vibration case, the caution zone is above 2.5 m/s2, and the Limit Value is above 5 m/s2.
All these measurements are done in the natural environment.
There is no specific legislation for controlling Whole-Body Vibration and Hand-Arm Vibration effects on workers’ health. However, Safe Work Australia’s Model Codes of Practice for Hazardous Manual Tasks highlights the need to assess and control workplace exposure to vibrations by monitoring the business process. They are applied in Melbourne, Victoria, NSW and other Australian states.
In NSW, the Work Health, and Safety Regulation mandates PCBUs (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking) to take care of workers’ health affected by manual tasks and Vibration.
Businesses must follow the guidelines and maintain regulatory compliance. They can seek help from Occupational Hygienists on the same.
How can Anitech’s Occupational Hygienists help?
Anitech’s Occupational Hygienists are certified in providing guidance and services on vibration tests, noise tests, and other occupational hygiene consulting services. We can offer expert guidance on overcoming workplace vibrations and the types of vibration tests to be applied.