Occupational vibration exposure occurs when the body is exposed to pulsation, shaking, or tremor usually produced by a vibrating object, such as a power hand tool. Vibration is often called a “vector quantity”, which simply means that the vibratory motion has both a negative effect in of itself and a magnitude, or intensity component. There are two classifications for vibration exposure: Hand -Arm vibration and Whole-Body vibration. These two types of vibration have different sources, affect different areas of the body, and produce different symptoms.

Hand-Arm vibration is usually caused by a vibrating hand tool or work piece which transmits the movement. Vibration restricts the blood supply to the hands and fingers, which, depending on the vibration level and duration of exposure, can contribute to an ergonomic injury.

Equipment With Moderate Vibration:

  • Grinders,
  • Sanders,
  • Jig saws.

Equipment With High Vibration:

  • Impact Wrenches,
  • Carpet Strippers,
  • Floor Polishers,
  • Chain Saws,
  • Percussive Tools,
  • Jack Hammers,
  • Chipping Hammers.
Exposure to Whole-Body vibration usually result from work conditions that involve sitting, standing, or lying on a vibrating surface, such as when operating heavy-duty vehicles or large machinery. Excessive levels and duration of exposure to whole-body vibration may contribute to back pain and performance issues.


Vibration exposure is dose related, meaning that effective controls should:
  • Reduce the intensity of the vibration,
  • Reduce the duration of the exposure to vibration,
  • Recognize early on the signs and symptoms of exposure,
  • And, identify individuals who are sensitive to vibration.
Various Engineering and Work Practice Controls can be employed to reduce the intensity and duration of vibration exposure. They include:
  • Select ergonomically designed anti-vibration tools,
  • Use anti-vibration full fingered gloves,
  • Grasping the tool as lightly as possible,
  • Rest the tool on a support as much as possible,
  • Avoid smoking because nicotine enhances the ability of blood vessels to go into spasm.