In a bid to drive up awareness of the importance and possibility of limiting vibration-induced injuries in construction, equipment from four national manufacturers will be tested in a friendly “Vibration Station” competition on Construction Safety Day this month in Seattle.

Operated by the safety directors of several LIUNA signatory employers, the chipping guns and roto-hammers of DeWalt, Makita, Bosch and Hilti will match up on May 4. Anti-vibration gloves will also be evaluated.

Dosimeters will measure vibrations and provide objective assessments. These will be augmented with the subjective opinions of the safety directors who try out the various equipment and grips.

“All the equipment meets government, ANSI and European anti-vibration technology (AVT) standards,” says LIUNA Northwest Region Field Coordinator Doug Buman, “but this is the first time that manufacturers have gone head-to-head with metered test results.”

Vibration injuries are a particular kind of repetitive motion disorder, the result of long-term, persistent exposure to vibrating machinery. These musculoskeletal injuries may develop slowly but can be painful and ultimately debilitating (see sidebar featuring Laborer Phil Ritter), often requiring surgery for repair and healing. Proper training and good technique can minimize risks, but each individual’s susceptibility is different. Although more research and monitoring is necessary to fully prove its efficacy, anti-vibration equipment offers potentially important protection against vibration injuries.

“Like other safety technology when first introduced, AVT may carry a somewhat higher price tag so contractors may be hesitant to spend on it,” says Buman. “This is why we’re staging the ‘Vibration Station’ competition. We want contractors and Laborers alike to recognize vibration risks and take precautions. Contractors can make a huge contribution by buying AVT whenever new equipment is purchased.”

[Steve Clark]