If you are using a vibrating tool at your workplace, and you continually are exposed to vibrations in the long term you are at risk being exposed to injuries. Seahealth has made a list of what kinds of injuries which can occur and how to prevent them.



Excel sheet - hand-arm exposure calculator

With this excel sheet you can calculate the load of exposure to hand-arm vibrations during a day with different work tasks.

Download sheet

Download pdf about vibrations, prevention and maximum exposure to vibrations

Accidents, injuries and illness from using vibrating tools:

  • Pins and needles and tingling in the fingers
  • White finger

Accidents, injuries and illness from vibrating environment (whole body vibration):

  • Joint injuries
  • Foot, leg and back pain
  • Discomfort and fatigue

Vibrating tools

White finger occurs when the blood vessels in the fingers contract sharply on account of vibration. The fingers become white, insensitive and numb. An attack can last from 15 minutes to an hour. Smoking makes white finger worse as nicotine makes the blood vessels contract.

Nerve fibres can also be damaged by vibration. This leads to pins and needles and reduced sensitivity in the fingers.

Finally, vibration can put a strain on and weaken the joints and the muscles in the hand. Once suffering white finger, it is impossible to get completely rid of it again although it becomes slightly better when a person is no longer exposed to vibration.

Whole body vibration

Vibrating environments expose the crew to whole body vibration. In time, this can damage the joints, including the spine. People standing on vibrating flooring can get pain in the feet, legs and back. In general, however, not much is actually known about the effects of whole body vibration.

Bulkheads that creak and objects that rattle can keep a person awake and these can be the source of great irritation. Creaking and rattling can be dealt with by screwing things down tightly or putting down felt underlay.

Rule of thumb

To avoid injury from vibrating tools:

Longest effective vibration intensity/day

You can use this list as a guideline for the length of time you should work with vibrating tools. The table shows the risk of injury. Working daily or several days in a row means 10% will suffer injury after 10 years. In the case of urgent jobs or in certain individual cases, working longer than the times in the table is acceptable.

When purchasing new tools, check the vibration level of different makes. Suppliers must provide such information.


Danish Maritime Authority Notices A Ch III B-2 on vibration also gives the limits/action figures for hand/arm vibration and whole-body vibration. The Danish Maritime Authority has also issued a report on vibration available at


International Regulations

Appropriate protection and control measures from exposure to vibration should be exercised, without which seafarers may risk adverse health effects.


Further information can be obtained in MOSH Guidelines 6.2.2 Vibrations.


Useful link:

ILO Code of practice - Ambient factors in the workplace

Senior Occupational Health Consultant

Anne L. Ries

+45 3311 1833

+45 2961 8860

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