Hand and arm vibrations from handheld tools have been and continue to be a challenge in the ISS sector and the oil industry in general. Beerenberg was among the first in the industry to put vibration exposure on the agenda, explains Aumo.
“Beerenberg was monitoring vibration exposure from various tools long before national regulations were introduced. We have allocated considerable resources internally to try to identify the best way of reducing exposure in the interest of health and safety,” she says.
A pioneer in identifying risk
Beerenberg in cooperation with Kokstad Bedriftshelsetjeneste (occupational health provider) began measuring vibration as far back as 2002.
“We regularly test various equipment, either by ourselves or together with partners such as Kokstad Bedriftshelsetjeneste. A noise, vibration and ergonomics regime has been implemented as a result of the readings in order to regulate and limit the time spent using handheld tools,” says Aumo.
“We have revised the regime as and when we have acquired new knowledge and will continue to do so going forward. Beerenberg was a major contributor of both data and participants to the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association’s noise and vibration project conducted in the period 2011 to 2013.”
To help expand the knowledge base further, a comprehensive survey of the company’s employees was carried out in 2014 to identify exposure to and negative effects of the use of vibrating tools.
“The response was very positive. Our employees welcomed the initiative, which gave us valuable information to work with.”
Longer working hours
Despite already having collected a large volume of data, Beerenberg partnered with Sinus to conduct a new survey in 2016. This time the objective was to investigate actual vibration reduction when using different types of gloves.
“The aim was to determine whether anti-vibration gloves can help reduce vibration exposure from various handheld vibrating tools. By identifying which gloves have an effect with which tools, it is possible to both improve health and safety and increase efficiency. It means we get a quality-assured summary of the effects of using gloves, resulting in reduced risk for our employees. We also wanted to see whether we could extend the maximum permitted exposure time when using handheld tools,” she says.
Several thousand readings were taken, generating a vast number of combinations which were then analysed to calculate average exposure values. A list of various combinations of gloves and equipment was subsequently published.
“Continual testing and information-gathering are giving us valuable answers, improved expertise and a user-friendly database of results. In most cases the use of gloves will have a positive effect. We have been unable to test all potential situations such as different weather conditions and temperatures, surfaces and other factors that may influence vibration exposure from the different tools. Yet our clear recommendation is to wear anti-vibration gloves whenever the user feels it benefits them,” concludes Linda Aumo.