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1. I have to include a Questionnaire for Mgmt personnel I have not come up with one yet. Will you be able to do a questionnaire for me or do you require me to do it?

2. Can you give me time until the end of the month to pass you my interview/questionnaire results?

Types of Vibrational Hazards in the Workplace

Vibration refers to rapid back and forth or oscillating movements. Mechanical vibrators that are utilized at work places are found to expose the workers to whole-body vibration (WBV) or hand-arm vibration (HAV). Hand arm vibrations refer to conditions that occur among individuals due to continuous use of hand-held power tools and are a major type of occupational hazard. However, they are most often unrecognized by the organizations and government authorities. Thus, according to the terms of occupational safety, hand arm vibrations are regarded as a specific kind of occupational hazard and are directly responsible for causing hand arm vibration syndrome among workers (Chiementin et al. 2013). While the effects of such vibrations have been found to create adverse impacts on the health and overall wellbeing of workers since many years, there is less concern over the damage it creates, upon comparison to chemical and noise related occupational hazards. Hand arm vibration syndrome can be defined as forms of industrial injuries that are triggered by prolonged and continuous use of vibration based machinery in the hands. This is a widespread industrial disease and affects thousands of workers globally (Rolke et al. 2013).

The condition is found to exert direct negative impacts on the functioning of nerves and muscles. Furthermore, the blood vessels, joints of wrist, hands, and arms are also found to get severely affected as a result of this condition. Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd is a company that acts as a solution provider for unique and difficult cleaning problems that are most commonly found in the oil and petrochemical sector. It offers a plethora of services that encompass underwater and topside cleaning of various pipework, structures, and tanks (Dynajet.com.sg 2018). The specialty of the company is associated with cold cutting of concrete and steel. Its services include high pressure water jetting, the effects of which in causing hand arm vibration syndrome will be evaluated.

In Singapore the control requirement of the hazard is only briefly stated under The Reduction of Vibration, WSH Regulations Part II of Singapore contain a brief overview of the control requirements related to vibrational hazard. These have been included in the form of a subtopic and included as a sub topic in the WSH Guidelines related to Improving Ergonomics in the Workplace (Geiger et al. 2014). No particular codes of practice or regulations are followed in Singapore for addressing such vibrational hazards. The Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd line of business that focuses in high pressure water jetting has around 40 employees. High pressure water jetting has been proved effective for cleaning (Dynajet.com.sg 2018). However, due to the high pressures that are involved, this water jetting equipment can become potentially dangerous on incorrect usage (Shen et al. 2013). A background investigation of the aforementioned company that has provisions for HPWJ services suggests that the jetting machines operate at high pressure. These pressures range from 15,000-40,000psi, for considerable period. Employees working in such HWJ services are exposed constantly to vibration hazards. These systems discharge sprays of water that flows at rates, which ranges between 1.5-10 gallons per minute (Hough 2016).  Owing to the fact that there is a lack of adequate guideline regarding safe operation of these equipment’s, the key stakeholders can suffer damaging effects due to such vibration hazards.

The Hazards of High Pressure Water Jetting and Vibration

Hand arm vibration syndrome is avoidable and preventable. However, they are found to create permanent damages, if undetected for a considerable period of time. This is a major cause of disabilities among workers and puts more than 2 million people at a risk of suffering negative health consequences (Carlsson and Dahlin 2014). The most common damage include impairments in the ability to perform fine work. Furthermore, it also triggers set of painful or finger blanching attacks (House et al. 2014). The objective of this research is to enhance knowledge about workplace vibration hazards and create an awareness on its potential effects among workers or employees working with HPWJ in the company, Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd. Moreover, the research also aims to assess knowledge of the existing employees regarding vibration hazards, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of their perceptions and opinions. The research will be carried out in a way that will facilitate collecting information from the local authorities and regulations on the workplace hazard, thereby addressing the adequacy of the existing guidelines. Due to the fact that mechanical automation has shown rapid advancements in all developing nations of the world, especially in most countries of South East Asia, there is an immediate need to address the aforementioned problem. Thus, early recognition of the hazard will pave the way for prevention and management of the hazard and its associated health risks.

The three principle objectives of the research activity include the following:

  • To assess current awareness level of all personnel involved in HPWJ using handheld guns on Vibration hazards and HAVS – in order to understand how well the Vibration hazard is and HAVS is perceived.
  • To review local regulations, code of practices and organization’s RMP on Vibration hazard against International standards and industry best practices – in order to gauge adequacy, efficacy of current risk management and/or control of vibration hazard involving HPWJ.
  • To examine the company’s risk management procedure on Vibration Hazard and investigate the extent of mitigation that has been taken.
  • Recommend suitable, possible solutions and/or control measures on Vibration hazard and HAVS.

Hand arm vibrations are most commonly transmitted from an industrial site or workplace to the hands and arms of several workers. They are generally caused due to prolonged operation of hand-guided equipment, hand-held power tools, or holding heavy vibration instruments. The most common symptoms apart from hand arm vibration syndrome include Raynaud’s syndrome or white finger, tendinitis, and carpel tunnel syndrome (Su et al. 2012). These collective symptoms are found to result in pain, and numbness in the fingers. High pressure water jetting equipment are composeof a straight jet that emits a uniform stream of liquid through a circular aperture. The typical energy of such straight jet nozzles are estimated to be around 20%. Thus, the straight jets are found to be highly effective on brittle and hard deposits, thereby leading to their subsequent shatter when hit by the jet device (Huang et al. 2012). Failure of the government of Singapore in formulating and enforcing such laws directly lead to decreased awareness and low level of knowledge among the workers, frequently exposed to such workplace vibration threats. The research will first conduct a literature review and draw relevant information in regards to the research objective from recent literature articles, following which it will categories the findings into themes that will help in drawing conclusion.

Existing Guidelines for Vibrational Hazards and High Pressure Water Jetting in Singapore

This is the second chapter of the dissertation and is mainly concerned with the core study of health hazards associated with the high-pressure water jetting (HPWJ) with a special mention to hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This chapter provides the theoretical concept underlying the HPWJ and HAVS in details. HPWJ is associated with numerous health related vibration hazards, which give rise to HAVS (House 2010). However, awareness in the domain of proper usage of HPWJ along with the observance of several precautions helps in reducing the severity of the hazard(Arquero and Taylor 2016). The following chapter will help to the researcher to understand the concept underlying the vibration hazard arising out of HPJW and subsequent guidelines, which are required to be followed in order to avoid the development of HAVS.

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a type of occupational disease which may afflict workers who work via using hand-held vibrating tools (Nyantumbu et al. 2006). Hand-arm-vibration is defined as the transfer of vibration from the HPWJ tool to the hand or arms of the worker using the tool (Heaver et al. 2011). According to the reports published by House (2010), HAVS is a common problem arising out of exposure to hand-arm vibration from HPWJ tool. Heaver et al. (2011) have opined that at least 300,000 working days are lost every year in UK because of HAVS related absenteeism. The reports published by US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1998) stated that stated that there lies a strong evidence of positive association between high level of exposure of HAV and HAVS. The percentage of HAVS resulting out of HPWJ is mainly common among the male in comparison to female. The group of workers affected by this syndrome includes forestry workers, stonecutters, stone drillers and shipyard workers (Heaver et al. 2011). The research conducted by Kim et al. (2001) revealed that risk of developing HAVS is high among the group of worker population who falls under the occupational category of pneumatic drills, impact wrenches and grinders. Kim et al. (2001) have opined that the rate the percentage of susceptibility among this group of population is 70%. The main factors, which decrease the latency of time of developing HAVS, include the frequency of vibration, the duration of exposure and transmissibility. Other occupational risk factors, which lead to the development of the disease, include the time-span of HPWJ tool use, cold climatic condition, the acceleration of the tool, the maintenance or the state of the tool. The grip force required to operate the tool, the design of the handle of the tool, the posture framed while handling the tool and the sensitivity of the rest breaks present in the tool are other occupational risk factors associated with the development of HAVS (Heaver et al. 2011). However, the research reports published by Heaver et al. (2011) also highlighted that apart using HPWJ tool there are other factors too that increases the susceptibility of developing HAVS. The main non-occupational risk stated by Heaver et al. (2011) include the smoking, individual susceptibility, exposure to non-occupational vibration, diabetes mellitus, and previous reported cases of hand injury and diabetes mellitus.

The Impact of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome on Employees

According to House (2010), HAVS cause vascular, musculoskeletal and neurological abnormalities. The majority of the studies conducted in HAVS showed that there lies a positive co-relation with the high level of exposure to HAV and vascularanomalies arising out of it (Heaver et al. 2011). The tenure of time between exposure to vibration and subsequent development of symptoms is variable. According to Rolke et al. (2013), the latency period is extremely less among the high-risks groups. The initial symptoms are intermittent however, these symptoms can gradually become continuous if the exposure to vibration is not limited at an early enough stage. The main neurological symptoms include paraesthesia, tingling, loss of sensory flexibility and decrease in dexterity (Heaver et al. 2011). These highlighted symptoms mostly centreson peripheral vasospasm however it can occur in isolation. According to Van Rijn et al. (2010), HAVS leads to decrease in grip strength arising out of muscles necrosis and fibre-type regrouping, fibrosis. This in turn hampers the ability of the worker to perform effectively and thereby loosing productivity. Van Rijn et al. (2010) have further opined that there are strong evidences that vibration injuries causes structural changes in the proximal end of the nerves leading to peripheral neuropathy which change the anatomy of the axon terminals and thereby disrupting seamless transmission of electrical impulses. Vascular manifestations are predominantly presented as cold-induced vasospasm over the finger tips and are commonly known as vibration white finger (VWF). Heaver et al. (2011)is of the opinion that in the early stage of HAVS, the tips of one or more fingers shows temporary blanch when get exposed to chilled environment and when re-warmed, hyperaemia along with pain is experienced. With time are continuous exposure to vibration tool, the frequency, duration and the severity of the blanching gets increased. In certain advanced cases, the fingers might appear cyanotic and can rarely develop certain trophic changes (Heaver et al. 2011). In the domain of musculoskeletal complications, Rolke et al. (2013) have reported that HAVS results into the development of osteoporosis of the wrist, acromi-oclavicular joints, and elbow along bone cysts. According to Heaver et al. (2011), the level and type of vibration is responsible for the development of complication in different zones of the arm. High Pressure Water Jetting (HPWJ) tool is high frequency impact tool and thus are associated with higher rate of occurrence of wrist symptoms. This cast a sharp difference with the low-frequency impact tool like concrete breakers or rock drills as they are associated with more complications in the proximal joints. According to Rolke et al. (2013)repeated and logical agitation along with jerking of the joints cause damage of the synovial fluid which further increases the susceptibility of developing neurological complication and mucoskeletal pain. Rolke et al. (2013) have further stated that power grip, manual labour, poor posture while conducting the work along with repetitive movements are other associated factors behind the mucoskeletal complications arising out of the HAVS. According to Nyantumbu et al. (2006), signs and symptoms of HAVS express as difficulty in employing hands in conducting daily activities both for personal and professional work. Development of HAVS increases the potential risk of accident in workplace along with impairment of job performance.

Objectives of the Research Activity

According to Ayers and Forshaw (2010), the workers often minimize the physical consequences arising out of HAVS. They also denied the psychological impacts. This is because they do not have a direct exposure of the consequence of HAVS and its adverse effects. Ayers and Forshaw (2010) have further opined that accepting the physiological impacts of HAVS like pain hampers the masculine image that is prevalent among the manual work environment like men are required to take the pain to ear the livings or “no pain, no gain”. Ayers and Forshaw (2010) reported that the worker fear of reporting their physical complications arising out of use of vibration tool because they fear unemployment. Arquero and Taylor (2016) stated that important of concentrating on young workers is, young employees are more likely to report about their exposure to vibration in comparison to older workers. Moreover, the young workers have lower rates of workers’ compensation claims. In Singapore, there is also high level of financial crisis among the workers who are working in the firm of water jetting. Their only concern is to earn bread for their family as they think it is their masculine duty to support their family members. While remaining so engrossed in work along with the fear of unemployment they develop an indifference towards their physical complications arising out of HAVS or try to neglect it and this neglect increases the severity of the disease (Ayers and Forshaw 2010). The workers are also of the opinion that the physical impacts of HAVS left them isolated and this reinforced absence of aftercare services available for them. In small companies which are devoid of occupational healthcare providers the workers have reported that they have never seen a nurse to conduct diagnostic test in order to detect the symptoms and complications of HAVS (Ayers and Forshaw 2010). Moreover, the employees are of the opinion that the management of the organization did not want to believe HAVS as disability. Workers at times feel that it is like a fight to extract the required information from the concerned authority about their health conditions in relation to available benefits and tax relief. Thus, the workers feel that they have lack of informed choices regarding their physical condition and this in turn affects their psychological functioning(Ayers and Forshaw 2010). There is also lack of adequate information in the domain of alternative pain control measurement and relaxation techniques. Due to this lack of information, the majority of the HAVS remains unreported and even if reported, lack of proper measures aggravates the severity of the disease(Ayers and Forshaw 2010). However, Healthand Safety Executive UK (2017), is of the opinion that HAVS is preventable however, once the damage is done, it is permanent. Delayed reporting by the workers is also cited by the main reason behind the irreversible damage of the disease by Bodley et al. (2015). Lack of awareness or ignorance of seriousness towards HAVS are the two main causes behind delayed reports. Bodley et al. (2015) reported that the majority of the workers belief that the symptoms of pain arising out of HAVS is a natural consequence of prolong tenure of work or ageing and that these symptoms of not serious enough or will eventually get better. There are also other group of workers who think that seeking medical attention can lead to the generation of conflict with the employer or they are either simply worried about the cost of treatment of missing daily wages for doctor’s appointment. All these ignorance and fear of reporting aggravates the severity of the HAVS (Bodley et al. 2015).

Preventative Measures for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Associated with High Pressure Water Jetting

According to the regulation published by Ministry of Manpower (MoM) Singapore (2014), there are two different ways that should be employed in order to reduce the effect of vibration and this are reducing vibration from their source and reducing vibration transmitted to the workers. The methods that must be employed in order to reduce vibration at the source as postulated by MoMSingapore(2014) include application of belts instead of iron chain for rotation machinery and use of rotating machine part other than reciprocating machine parts. MoM Singapore (2014) also opined in favour of regular maintenance of vibrating machinery as shaft misalignment, worn bearings, unbalanced parts, damaged gear teeth and loose bolts can increase the level of vibration. The methods which are postulated in order to reduce vibration transmission include use of suspended seats, cabin or cab. MoM Singapore (2014) also vouched in favour of using equip vibration tolls along with proper vibration handles like breakers and chain saws with suspended handles, pneumatic rammers or elastic mounting device. For the protection of the workers directly from the thrust of vibration, the norms which are published in MoM Singapore (2014) include use of anti-vibration gloves in order to protect against hand arm vibration. UK has more stringent guidelines for negating the ill-effects of vibrating tools. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) UK (2017), the workstation must be designed in such a way that it helps in minimising the load on employees hands, arms and wrists that must result from poor posture. HSE UK(2017) vouched in favour of jigs and suspension system in order to reduce the need to grip heavy-weight tools. HSE UK (2017) also haveinstrument maintenance policies and guidelines for work schedules. According to them, the work must be planned in such a way that it limits the exposure of vibration for prolong period of time. Similarly like MoM Singapore, HSE UK (2017) recommends the use of protective clothing in order to keep hands protected from direct thrust of vibration. Protective clothing will also ensure that the hands are kept warm and dry and thus maintaining good circulation and subsequent protection from developing white finger. HSE UK (2017) is of the opinion that gloves can be employed in order to keep hands warm but should never be relied to provide protection against vibration. Not only UK, Australia too has their own regulatory guidelines in the domain of reducing the severity of HAVS. According to Safe Work Australia (2016), assessment of risk is necessary in order to reduce the risk of HAVS. The risk assessment must be done on the basis of tenure of vibration exposure, individual susceptibility and the task and tool characteristics. Safe Work Australia (2016) is of the opinion that if it is not reasonably practicable to totally eliminate the risk then the organisations are recommended to implement substitute vibration tools that have lower vibration emission levels and via isolating hazard via changing the path of vibration transmission. Safe Work Australia (2016) further opined that proper measurement of HAV is required under conditions where there is no significant information about the rate of vibration emission by the tool and immediate reporting for medical advice in case of early signs of HAVS. Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (2017) recommends that proper engineering controls, work practices, medical surveillance and personal protective equipment can be used to reduce the harmful exposure to vibrating tool and can also prove to be helpful identifying HAVS in is early sage among the risk prone workers.

Common Occupational Risk Factors for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Numerous strategies are being employed in order to cope up with the health hazards associated with HAVS. According to Ko et al. (2011), proper design and development of suspended handles of HPWJ will be effective in reducing the impact of vibration on hand and arms of the workers. They proposed that a prototype handle made of heavier metal results in less impact of vibration on hands and arms. Hao, Mei and Ripin (2011) opined in the favour of using tuned vibration absorber for the effective suppression of hand-arm vibration. According to the reports published by Verhagen et al. (2013), conservative interventions apart from surgery can be proved effective in order to control or to reduce the severity of the HAVS. Verhagen et al. (2013) proposed physiotherapy (mobilization, electrotherapy, exercises and ultrasound), behavioural therapy, spinal manipulation therapy and occupational therapy (splints and working practices) effective non-surgical interventions for HAVS. Verhagen et al. (2013) opined that treatment might consist of either single or more than one intervention that can be procured by either single healthcare personnel or healthcare professionals from multiple disciplines (for example: multidisciplinary team). According to Arquero and Taylor (2016), interventions are not enough in comprehensive regulation of HAVS, regulatory interventions are also important in controlling the disease outcome. In the European Union (EU), the authorised structure for controlling the risk of vibration exposure is based upon the physical agents Directive 2002/44/EC – Vibration (Arquero and Taylor 2016). The majority of the EU member states have introduced this Directive directly into their own legal framework towards the beginning of 2005. This directive has lead to the establishment of numerous requirements for the protection of the fellow workers from the potential risk of vibration. Some of the requirements include conduction of risk assessment by the employers for detecting the vibration hazards and maximum permissible limit for vibration exposure (Arquero and Taylor 2016). Other requirements include reduction in worker exposures to vibration via taking control measures by the employers and proper recommendation for regular surveillance of health among the workers who are at significant risks of vibration hazards. Arquero and Taylor (2016) also proposed the plan for the proper control of the HAVS among the workers. Some of the important points highlighted in the recommendation of Arquero and Taylor (2016) include working with plant and equipment designers and suppliers in order to minimise and eliminate the vibration from the source and conducting stakeholders consultation in order to ascertain the requirement for and the nature of further requirement of regulatory intervention. Arquero and Taylor (2016) also proposed the requirement for raising awareness of the adverse health effects associated with the prolong vibration exposure among the young workers.

Symptoms of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Thus from the above literature review it can be summarised that prolong use of HPWJ tool leads to the development of HAVS. HAVS can be defined as an occupational disease that causes vascular, musculoskeletal and neurological abnormalities. The abnormalities leads to permanent impact of the hand arm co-ordination leading to difficulty in performing daily activities and thereby losing the job. The main risk factor behind the development of the disease is frequency of vibration, duration of exposure, acceleration of the tool, handle design, he posture taken while operating the machine and the cool working condition. However, proper reporting of the pain or other symptoms of the disease like tingling of the finger tips might help in early detection of the disease and thereby helping is fast recovery. But the majority of the workers who are operating vibration tools are either unaware of the disease development or simply ignore the symptoms from the fear of financial burden. Moreover, employers also lack proper primary healthcare setup, gloves for machine operations, regular testing of the machine and other educational program in order to fight against the disease.

The objective of the study was to determine the knowledge and level of awareness of the workers on HAVS in a scenario where they were exposed to prolonged usage of hand-held high pressure water jet instruments. Setting a sample that will accurately represent the population on which the research objective is focused, forms the most essential step of conducting a survey (Namageyo-Funa et al. 2014). Thus, it had to be ensured that the recruited sample belonged to the correct population and all members of the population had an equal chance of getting selected as the representative sample. The participants of the survey were recruited from the company Dyna-Jet Pte Ltd. Random sampling was followed to recruit male workers for conduction of the survey. It allowed generalizing the results. A total of 20 workers, 8 supervisors and 2 personnel from the management of the company were selected for conducting the survey. Inclusion criteria for the workers are listed below:

  • All were fit and healthy
  • They were competent to operate the HPWJ
  • They were aged 22-34 years
  • No previous reports of injury or illness due to vibration hazards

The selected supervisors met the inclusion criteria of being highly experienced, who were directly involved in the field projects. Their age ranged from 37-55 years and did not come across reports of vibration hazard related injuries. The 2 management personnel had an experience of more than 15 years and were rarely involved in field projects.

An exploratory research design was formulated for the study that took place in the form of close-ended questions (Rea and Parker 2014). It was conducted to determine the nature of the problem related to awareness on vibration hazards. It also provided a significant insight into the given situation.

Neurological Abnormalities of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Surveys were selected as the data collection instrument for gathering flawless and effective data. The survey method is considered to be most extensively used to collecting information in topics that are related to behavioral sciences (Weigold, Weigold and Russell 2013). With the aim of using the survey method efficiently, three separate sets of questionnaires were developed for the workers, supervisors, and management personnel respectively. The survey was conducted in a conducive environment and involved direct interaction between the sample and the researchers. Most of the workers were found to have poor English proficiency. Thus, the survey was conducted in Tamil, their native language, to provide them a deeper understanding of the questions. No other individuals were present during data collection. The answers given by the workers were translated into English and noted down. All supervisors and management staff were extremely proficient in English. Thus, the survey forms were duly filled by them and submitted on time. Major assumptions include that the participants were reflective and honest in their responses to the questions. A fishbone diagram was used in the form of a visualization tool in order to categorise the underlying causes that lead to the identified problem of HAVS. This diagram helped to break down the potential causes or elements for recognizing the factors that had a great impact.

Since the company contains 40 employees who work with high pressure jetting, it was not possible to survey all of them for the research activity. The study was therefore limited to 20 workers, selected through random sampling. This small sample within the representative population might limit generalizability of the findings.

Q1) Do you feel vibration constantly when carrying out High Pressure Water Jetting (HPWJ) with handheld jetting gun?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

20

20

100%

No

0

20

0%

From the above data it can be said that all the workers doing the jobs of technician feel constant vibration as they perform the activity with HPWJ. Hence, there are no workers, who feel otherwise. The above chart therefore shows 100% consent of the employees feeling the vibration.

2) Rate the level of vibration

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response (%)

Weak

0

20

0

Average

0

20

0

Strong

11

20

55%

Very Strong

9

20

45%

Figure 2:  Rating the level of Vibration

Nearly half of the workers feel very strong level of vibration with the use of HPWJ. The rest half of the workers even feel high level of vibration during the usage of the device. Hence, it is evident that the equipment exerts high to extreme high pressure to all the technicians. From the chart it is clear that there are no employees, who feel little or no vibration while the usages of HPWJ.

3) Do you recognize vibration as a hazard?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

5

20

25%

No

15

20

75%

Figure 3: Recognizing vibration as hazard

From the above data, it is seen that 75% of the participants are not aware about the negative consequences of vibration that are caused from HPWJ. This is mainly due to lack of awareness with the technicians about the hazards that are associated with the same. Just 25% of the workers seem to consider the vibration as negative consequences.

Few of the major causes of lack of awareness amongst the technicians for recognising the hazardous level of vibration is mainly due to lack of information provided by the employer in safety protocols. Currently, almost none of them have faced any kind of major symptoms related to vibration hazards. Nevertheless few of the employees are aware of the hazard as they kept them enriched with information from outside their workplace zone related to health safety protocols.

4) Do you recognize that constant exposure to vibration hazard can cause ill health?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

3

20

15%

No

17

20

85%

Most of the technicians are not even aware about the negative consequences that can cause to help with constant exposure to vibration. From the above data it is clear that only 15% of the respondents considered vibration hazards can cause ill effect to their Physical health. This suggests due to lack of training, most of the employees do not take proper precautions to avoid the negative consequences of constant hazard exposure.  

5) Have you suffered any injuries to your spine, back, Neck, shoulder, arm, hand or fingers?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

4

20

20%

No

16

20

80%

The cause of lack of awareness about the negative consequences of machine vibration is evident from the above collected data as 80% of the respondents have not suffered from any injuries in the spine, back, neck shoulder or arm. Only 20% of the respondents have suffered from these injuries, which may or may not be from the vibration hazard.

6) Have you heard about Hand Arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

0

20

0%

No

20

20

100%

Due to lack of awareness about the negative consequences of vibration hazard, none of the employees or technicians is currently aware about the disease called Hand arm vibration syndrome. Hence, it is evident that very few of the employees have suffered from this disease. The lack of awareness almost among all employees is one of the major concerns for long-term growth of the respective organizations related productivity and workplace reputation.

7) Do you suffer any tingling sensation pain or numbness in your finger or hands immediately after getting out HPWJ works with a handheld jetting gun?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

20

20

100%

No

0

20

0%

The tingling and the numbness sensation are very common among the technicians as all the respondents have agreed with the given fact. Hence, it can be said that all the employees or technicians working with HPWJ. The above findings suggest that all the employees are at high risk of suffering from chronic diseases related to vibration hazard if no immediate measures are being taken to avoid the same.  

8) Does your company provide health surveillance for HAVS?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

0

20

0%

No

20

20

100%

From the above data it can be said that due to lack of health surveillance within the company about HAVS none of the workers or technicians are currently aware about the disease. All the workers therefore have disagreed with the fact about the health surveillance related to the disease provided by the employer. As there is entire lack of health surveillance, there is a high health hazard risk for all employees. This is one of the major issue as the workplace reputation of the company is at stake.    

9) Does your company provide structure training for the use of HPWJ handheld guns?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

19

20

95%

No

1

20

5%

Almost all of the technicians provide structure training for the use of HPWJ. This is evident from the fact that 95% of the participants have agreed with the fact as they have received the training of using the above equipment. It can also be said that most of the employees are believed to have batter technical skills about the proper usages of equipment, thereby helping the employer to have better levels of productivity.

10) Would you like to know more about vibration hazard and HAVS?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

20

20

100%

No

0

20

0%

Figure 10: Workers eager to get more information about vibration hazard

In spite of the fact that none of the workers currently are aware about HAVS, from the above represent data it can be said that all of them are eager to know more about the disease. Hence, it can be said that in spite of current lack of awareness all the workers are highly health conscious and want to take preventive measures against any form of hazards involved in workplace.

The below represented data have been collected from 8 supervisors, most of them have more than 5 to 10 years of experience in the respective field. 

  1. Do you recognise that constant exposure to vibration hazard?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

5

8

62.5%

No

3

8

37.5%

From the above collected data it is clear that nearly 63% of the supervisors are currently aware about the health hazards that are associated with constant exposure in vibration instruments. Nevertheless, there are also nearly 38% of the supervisors who do not consider this as health hazard. This is mainly due to lack of awareness or experience and training that they got as health safety protocols to be taken at workplace.

The major reason for not considering the hazard is mainly due to the lack of information that are provided by the management. Moreover, most of them have not encountered with the practical situation related to that of the health hazards with the technicians at the workplace. 

  1. Do you know that constant, long term exposure to vibration can cause ill health?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

1

8

12.5%

No

7

8

87.5%

In spite of the fact that most of the supervisors are aware about health hazard related to vibration, the above data suggest that only 13% of the supervisors agrees with the fact that constant exposure to vibration can cause ill health. 

  1. Have you had workers complaining to you on any of the following symptoms after carrying out HPWJ works with handheld jetting gun- tingling sensation, pain or numbness in your fingers or hand?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

4

8

50%

No

4

8

50%

The above data provided mix as responses as 50% of the supervisors have agreed that the workers under the supervision have suffered from numbness and tingling sensation after using handheld jetting gun. Hence, nearly half of the workers are under the risk of facing in hazard due to constant exposure to vibration.

  1. Have you ever heard of Hand Arm Vibration syndrome (HAVS)?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

1

8

12.5%

No

7

8

87.5%

The above collected data suggest that nearly 88% of the supervisors are not currently aware about the hand arm vibration syndrome. Hence, it is quite evident that the supervisors will not be able to inform the technicians about the risks or hazard involved with constant exposure to vibration as they are unaware about the disease.

  1. Do you think your work group is exposed to vibration hazard and its related risks?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

7

8

87.5%

No

1

8

12.5% 

In spite of lack of awareness about vibration related disease, the above data suggest nearly 88% of the supervisors agree with the fact that high level of risks are involved with the technicians being constantly exposed to vibration. Nearly just 13% of the supervisors also do not agree with the fact as they have very low level of awareness level.

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

2

8

25%

No

6

8

75%

The above data suggest that 75% of the supervisors do not feel that they are in preventive measures to deal with vibration related hazards encountered by the technicians. The 25% of the supervisors who have agreed with the fact can be considered as less aware group, who do not have much idea about operation related hazards.

  1. Does your company profile structure training for the use of HPWJ handheld guns?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

5

8

62.5%

No

3

8

37.5%

As in the case of survey information provided by the technicians, nearly 63% of the supervisors have agreed with the fact that their company provides structure training for the use of HPWJ to the Employees.

  1. Are the workers involved in the use of HPWJ handheld guns, constantly monitored on proper use and techniques?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

6

8

75%

No

2

8

25%

75% of the supervisors have agreed with the fact that all the technicians are being constantly monitored while they are using the handheld jetting guns. Hence, in most of the cases the supervisors ensure that proper ways are being implemented to ensure proper usage of heavy machineries. There are even 25% of the supervisors who do not agree with the fact as few of the workers do not have proper training for using the machine. 

  1. State two ways to improve the control of vibration hazard

From the collected data of survey it can be said that most of the supervisors feel that in order to control the vibration hazard it is important to reduce the exposure time of the technicians with HPWJ. It is also essential to use advanced engineering techniques in order to reduce the impact of vibration into the body of the technicians. Few of them have even emphasized upon the importance of providing advanced training and education to the technicians, which will help them to increase their practical skills and awareness level. This will therefore ensure that the employees are able to take self-precautionary measures in order to avoid long term negative consequences. 

  1. Do you think there are sufficient local regulations or guidelines to address or advice on vibration Hazard in Singapore?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

1

8

12.5%

No

7

8

87.5%

Nearly 88% of the supervisors believe that in Singapore there are no proper guidelines for employers to provide awareness training to technicians for issues related to vibration hazards. Just over 12% however have agreed, as they felt that current training being provided to the employeesis enough for them to deal with all type of risky situations. 

  1. How well recognised is vibration hazards and HAVS in Singapore?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Thoroughly

0

8

0%

Adequate

0

8

0%

Inadequate

2

8

25%

Poor

6

8

75%

Due to lack of precautionary measures for employment Guideline in Singapore, 75% of the supervisors felt that HAVS has not been recognized as vibration hazard. 25% have provided opinion about inadequacy level of dealing with the disease. 

  1. Do you think having more awareness on vibration hazard and HAVS is useful to your work activity?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

7

8

87.5%

No

1

8

12.5%

Nearly 80% of the supervisors have agreed with the fact that high awareness level about vibration hazard will help to deal with the HAVS disease. 

  1. Would you like to get more information about Vibration hazard and HAVS?

Options

Response Frequency

Total Respondents

Percentage of Response

Yes

7

8

87.5%

No

1

8

12.5% 

As currently most of the supervisors as well as the technicians and not aware about HAVS, 88% of the respondents have agreed that they require additional information about the disease in order to deal with the same. Just above 12% however, feels that they have already enough knowledge to deal with the disease

  1. Do you recognise vibration as a hazard?

As currently no major illness or health hazard have been caused due to high level of vibration, also as it is not practically applicable to the current job profile both of the operational managers do not consider vibration as a health hazard for the employees. 

  1. Do you know constant, long term exposure to vibration can cause illness?

In this question both of the manager have mixed reaction as one have agreed while other disagreed with the fact that vibration can cause ill health to the supervisor or technicians. 

  1. Have you heard about Hand Arm vibration  syndrome (HAVS)

Like in the case of supervisor and technicians both of the managers are currently not aware about the disease named Hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This is mainly due to the lack of technical knowledge that are provided to the employee guidelines. 

  1. Do you refer to local or international regulations, code of practice or industry based practice on vibration hazards and mitigation?

Both the managers have also disagree with the fact that their organization currently do not follow the international guidelines for minimizing hazards related to vibration, which are caused due to constant exposure to heavy machineries. 

  1. Do you provide structure training and safe work instruction for your stuff on the use of HPWJ handheld jetting gun

Both the managers have also disagree with the fact that their organization currently do not follow the international guidelines for minimizing hazards related to vibration, which are caused due to constant exposure to heavy machineries. 

  1. Do you provide suitable PPE for personal working with HPWJ handheld guns?

Both manager is also agrees with the fact that proper professional training are being provided to the technicians for the use of HPWJ handheld jetting guns.

  1. When organisation purchase HPWJ handheld jetting guns, is the equipment's vibration emission rating taken into consideration?

Both the manager have disagreed with the above statement of not using the equipment's vibration emission rating. This can be one of the major causes of higher level of risks that are involved with the current workplace.

  1. Are the HPWJ handheld guns maintained regularly as per manufacturer's recommendations?

Both the mangers have agreed about the fact of maintain the equipment according to the guidelines.

  1. Are you familiar with the term Exposure Action Value (EAV) and Exposure Limit Value (ELV)?

As none of the managers are aware about the given two terms, it can be said that they have low awareness level about the technical information.

  1. Do you think there are sufficient local regulations or guidelines to address or advice on vibration Hazard in Singapore?

The above information suggests that both of the managers have agreed that there are no local regulations about vibration hazard related to the guidelines that need to be implemented at workplace. 

  1. State what positive impact can addressing vibration bring to your business

The major positive impact of addressing hydration hazard according to the opinion of the operational manager is decreased level of Healthcare risk involved at workplace. This will ultimately help to improve the productivity of the company. 

  1. State what negative impact can addressing vibration hazard bring to your business

For both the manager increasing cost of implementing Health Care safety plan is one of the major negative impact for addressing the issue related to vibration hazard. 

  1. Do you think having more awareness on vibration hazards and HAVS is useful to your business?

Both operational managers have emphasized upon the importance of having high awareness level about vibration hazard and HAVS as it will help to reduce the risk of the following disease. 

  1. Would you like to know more about vibration hazard and HAVS?

Like in the case of supervisors and technicians the managers are also eager enough to get more information about vibration hazard and HAVS.

Conclusion

Linking with objective 1: To find about the knowledge of workers or employees about HAVS and vibration hazard

From the portion of data findings it is clear that most of the employees including supervisors, technicians and even operational managers have very less information or knowledge about the Hand arm Vibration syndrome (HAVS). In spite of the fact that most of the workers who directly involved in dealing with the handheld Jetting guns do consider the negative consequences of constant exposure to vibration, most of them have currently not encountered the direct symptoms related to HAVS. The managers also do not provide proper guidelines to deal with health safety measures that can minimise the vibration hazards.

Nevertheless, one of the positive information that can be concluded from the finding section is the fact that all the employees from technicians to managers are highly eager to get information about HAVS and other health hazards related to long term exposure in using heavy vibrating machine.

Linking with objective 2: Evaluation of existing codes practice, International guidelines and regulation on vibrating hazard

From the section of literature review it can be said that the Ministry of Manpower has provided regulations to reduce the health hazard associated with long term exposure to vibration. This includes application of belts instead of iron chair for rotating heavy machineries. The guidelines also recommend employers to properly check the heavy equipment in order to ensure that they are safe to use for the technicians. It is also important to use proper safety equipment to minimise all form of risks. Proper Method can be applied in order to minimise the level of vibration that reach out to the inner body parts of the technicians.

In spite of these guidelines from the ministry of Singapore, from the portion of data analysis it can be concluded that none of the technicians, supervisor or even operational managers are currently aware about the same. Due to lack of awareness among the employees, it can also be concluded that none of the proper guidelines related to health hazard in vibration are being practically implemented at the workplace of Singapore.

Linking with objective 3: To examine the company’s risk management procedure on Vibration Hazard and investigate the extent of mitigation that has been taken.

From the section of findings it is clear that almost no workers or supervisors in the Dyna-jet are currently aware about the harmful consequences of vibration hazard and almost none of them have heard about the disease HAVS. Due to the lack of awareness there is also no official documentation of the training process that is given to the employees. In most of the cases, the technicians are not given any form of proper official trainings that will help them to take precautions for the vibration hazards. This is one of the major issues as the employees are at high risks of facing the hazard. It can also be concluded that the managers of the company also do not have the knowledge and capability to implement the awareness training program. Hence, the subsequent recommendations are needed to implement the training procedures.  

Linking with objective 4: Development of guidance for enhancing awareness and assisting in hazard risk management (Recommendations)

From the portion of data analysis it is clear that all the employees and Management of the workplace at Singapore are highly eager to deal with the negative consequence of vibration hazard. It is highly recommended that the initial steps needed to be taken by the operational manager by ensuring proper implementation of International guidelines provided by the Ministry of Manpower in Singapore. This will help to ensure that proper safety trainings are also included alongside the technical trainings that are being provided to the workers. It is also recommended to use safety equipment and follow the strict protocol of using heavy vibrating machines to minimise all form of hazards that can cause serious and permanent damage with the physical fitness of the technicians.

It can also be concluded from the findings that the management strongly believe with effective health it is possible to improve about the productivity of the organisation. Hence, it is highly recommended to improve the existing safety protocols that will ensure all the employees and technicians are satisfied with the safety level of the workplace.

The tool of medical surveillance can be used as an essential tool to check up the health status of the employees. According to Magnavita (2018), with the use of per-medical checkups during the time of recruitment, it is possible to evaluate the existing health status of the employees. It can also be said that more than 60% of the employees suffering from chronic pain due to workplace hazards already had pre-existing health complications (Hse.gov.uk, 2018). Nevertheless, the medical tool of medical surveillance has to be a regular part of the safety protocol of Dyna-Jet Risk Management Procedure on Vibration hazard plan.  The following the steps of the risk management plan:

  • The person, who is mostly exposed to the equipment, has to be identified as they will have the risks of poor levels of blood circulation.
  • The vibration hazard can be identified at the early stage by monitoring the level of blood pressure.
  • Special care with needs to be taken for the employees, who showed early symptoms of vibration hazard related disease. This may include reducing the overall duration of work.

Provide proper Trainings for Vibration hazard  

The training must focus on guiding the employees with the information about the early symptoms of vibration hazard diseases. They also need to be encouraged to take proper assistance soon after they feel discomfort due to the health related matters. They also have to be self-aware about the usage of HPWJ, which will help to minimize the impact of vibration.

Measuring the value of the exposure limit  

The HPWJ equipment needs to have a legal permissible of safety measurement. This will enable to measure the level of hazard that is being exposed to the workers. The important parameter that has to be measured includes that of free air and work piece that has to be measured using the methods of tripod microphone and Dosemeter (Rout and Sikdar 2017). 

Use of man-less Equipment

The Dyna-Jet Risk Management Procedure need to popularize the usages of self-automated machine that will minimize the risks of vibration hazards among the employees. Advanced levels of engineering techniques are needed to be applied to maximize the automation process.

References

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Ayers, B. and Forshaw, M., 2010.An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the psychological ramifications of hand-arm vibration syndrome. Journal of health psychology, 15(4), pp.533-542.

Bodley, T., Nurmohamed, S., Holness, D.L., House, R. and Thompson, A.M.S., 2015. Health-care barriers for workers with HAVS in Ontario, Canada. Occupational Medicine, 65(2), pp.154-156.

Carlsson, I.K. and Dahlin, L.B., 2014. Self-reported cold sensitivity in patients with traumatic hand injuries or hand-arm vibration syndrome-an eight year follow up. BMC musculoskeletal disorders, 15(1), p.83.

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