The goal of this project is to investigate possible early and late health effects in the hands of specialized road workers after occupational exposure to vibrations from handheld tools. We aim to study workers involved in rock slope stabilization and highway guardrail building. Rock slope stabilization of mountain sides close to roads, railways or housing, are typically carried out by work teams consisting of 2-3 people. Hand held rock drills like the Montabert T21 and Atlas Copco BB 16 are often used. Time spent is normally between 10 and 40 minutes per hole. 80 – 90% of this time is used handling a rock drill.

A railings-crew normally consists of four workers. The crew uses a truck with crane and trailer, a utility truck, and a truck with a combined drill and pile-driver. The most important hand tools used are power wrenches grinders and sledge hammers. Power wrenches are used to mount or demount railings and are frequently used. Sledge hammers used to fasten or loosen fence posts are often used. The grinder is used sporadically, most often for repairing railings damaged after traffic accidents.


1) To do a thorough survey of exposure to hand-arm-vibration related to rock slope stabilization and highway guardrail-mounting work.

2) To measure potential negative health effects, like early stages of development of hand-arm vibration syndrom (HAVS) or HAVS over time (at least 5 years) among these workers.

Questionnaires completed by rock securing workers in a pilot study suggest a high prevalence of HAVS symptoms. The same has been observed among guardrail installers. We aim to verify the extent of these findings in the groups using diagnostic tools (vibrometry, strength tests, tremor tests).

External collaborators

Thomas Clemm and Margun Dahle, Mesta occupational health service

Karl Færden, Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Oslo University Hospital (OUS)

Project Group

Project manager: Bente Ulvestad

Project participants: Karl-Christian Nordby, Rita Bast-Pettersen

Financial contributor

The Fund for Regional Safety Representatives (regionale verneombud – RVO) in the construction industry