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Vibration tools bust safety limits five times over

HAND VIBRATION tools are up to five times more damaging to site workers than manufacturers' figures claim, reports a leading equipment supplier.

Site-based research by tool and fixing supplier Hilti has revealed that workers who believe they are working within safety limits are in fact putting their health at risk.

Hilti's research has found tools which the makers claimed had vibration of 4m/s 2, actually recorded 20m/s2 when measured on site.

'If designers used these latest figures, rather than results from perfect laboratory conditions, then safe working time with these tools would be reduced to minutes, ' said Hilti product manager, Steve Kennon.

The UK's Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is undertaking research expected to back Hilti's revelations.

Frequent use of power tools such as drills, cutters and breakers can lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

This condition is commonly called white finger and can damage joints, muscles, circulation and nerves. Early symptoms range from tingling to loss of touch and painful fingers.

Hilti's research says tools producing the lowest vibration levels can only be safely used for a maximum of 105 minutes in each working day. If contractors and designers respond to the new data productivity will be cut. Hilti is developing guidance for designers.

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