The Directive aims at ensuring health and safety of each worker and at creating a minimum basis of protection for all Community workers by timely detection of adverse health effects arising or likely to arise from exposure to mechanical vibration, especially musculo-skeletal disorders.
The Directive distinguishes between vibration affecting the hand-arm-system and vibration being transmitted to the whole body.
The Directive defines exposure limit values for hand-arm-vibrations and whole-body-vibrations, respectively on basis of a standardised eight hour reference period, simulating a work day.
Additionally it defines exposure action values for both kinds of vibration, on basis of an eight hour reference period.
Obligations of the employer:
The employer shall assess, and if necessary measure the levels of exposure to mechanical vibration on basis of technical specifications given in the annex of the Directive.
It has furthermore to be done in accordance to the obligations laid down in the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC. Results of risk assessment have to be recorded on a suitable medium and kept up to date on a regular basis. The risk assessment shall be furthermore updated on a regular basis, particularly if there have been significant changes which could render it out of date, or if the results of health surveillance show it to be necessary.
When assessing the exposure, the employer must take into account working practices and working equipment (information submitted by manufacturer). When measuring, he shall use adequate technical apparatus and appropriate methodology.
The employer shall give attention to level, type and duration of exposure, limit and action values defined in the Directive, particular sensitivity of workers, interaction with vibrations caused by other equipment at work place, unusual working conditions (especially cold work) and the exposure to vibration beyond working hours under employer’s responsibility.
Based on results of the risk assessment, the employer take measures that allow to reduce risks at source.
If the action values are once exceeded, the employer must implement an action plan to prevent exposure from exceeding the exposure limit values. Action may include adequate technical and/or organisational measures to reduce exposure to mechanical vibration to a minimum.
If exposure limit values are exceeded, the employer must take immediate action to reduce exposure below limit.
The employer shall ensure that workers who are exposed to risks from vibration at work and/or their representatives receive any necessary information and training relating to the outcome of the risk assessment provided for in Article 4 of the Directive.
Member States must adopt provisions to ensure the appropriate health surveillance of the workers. Surveillance is aimed at the quick diagnose of any health effect caused by mechanical vibration at work.
Member States shall ensure that in cases of positive diagnose that the worker is informed immediately and receives any required information and advice and that the employer reviews the risk assessment.
Member States must establish arrangements to ensure that health records are made on individual basis that can be consulted by the workers.
Member states had to transpose the Directive until 6 July 2005. They are entitled for a five years transitional period from 6 July 2005 to allow the use of working equipment which does not allow the exposure limit value to be respected if it was given to the worker before 6 July 2007. For working equipment used in forestry and agriculture the period can be prolonged up to a maximum of nine years.
Every five years, Member States must provide a report on practical implementation of this Directive to the Commission.
See also further documents of the European Commission on that topic:
Evaluation of the Practical Implementation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Directives in EU Member States - Directive on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration) (2017)