(3.5-min read)

Every day, thousands of construction workers around the world use vibration-heavy equipment. These tools include air hammers, jackhammers, chain saws, power grinders, and many others. While these can cause initial fatigue due to the constant vibration, with years of use, these vibrations may cause much more severe and even permanent damage to nerves and blood vessels—leading to poor circulation and dexterity of the fingers. This condition is called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome, or HAVS.

While this syndrome can be debilitating if perpetuated, there are several ways to prevent and reduce its impact.

1. Make sure your hands are dry and warm. Colder or dry hands are much more susceptible to vibration-related damage. Especially on cold or windy days, it is crucial to wear the appropriate gloves to keep your hands warm and pliable.

2. Don’t grip so tight. The less the tool can transfer its vibration through your hands and arms, the less damage it can do. For this reason, only grip the device as tight as it is necessary to control it. If you’re white-knuckling a tool with violent vibration, that makes it easier for your hands to absorb all of that vibration—something you don’t want.

3. Pick the right tools. Some tools are made with specialized safety features that reduce the transfer of vibrations to the user. Other devices may be designed in such a way that vibration is not as present in the first place. These should be significant buying incentives for your crew. The less vibration a tool transfers to your crew members, the longer it can be used with little consequence.

4. Take breaks from equipment use. Make sure that you are taking the appropriate breaks with the equipment. If you feel that you are wasting undue time, find other work to do in the meantime. Using heavily vibrating tools for an extended duration will ultimately result in your being less productive, so pick your battles.

5. Maintain the tools. Just like a car, when tools are not properly maintained, they vibrate more. Keeping your tools in tip-top shape will ensure limited vibration for users.

6. Pursue vibration dampening technology. There are a variety of vibration-reducing tools and technology available to reduce the transfer of vibration to the equipment user. Some of these are specialized gloves, while others are a bit more elaborate. Choose the option that is right for you.

7. Use the right tool for the job. Assessing whether or not the tool you’re using may be overkill may cost you time, but you’ll make up for it in the time you’re actually able to work on the job. Taking breaks from vibration-heavy tools for jobs that don’t require that amount of strength can cost you more time than a less robust tool.

8. Develop another working method. If a specific construction activity exposes you to too much equipment vibration, consider a new way of working. Can you use a jackhammer attached to the arm of an excavator instead of by hand? Does this job require a vibration-heavy tool? Find ways to get the job done while minimizing vibration exposure.


For all of your commercial construction needs in the Greater Tulsa, OK area, reach out to your friends at Cowen Construction for more information.