Battery Tool Vibration and Noise Levels

December 8, 2022
Contact us
Request a call back

A recent research report, published by the HSE, has compared vibration and noise levels of various battery-based tools with more traditionally powered equivalents. It has often been claimed that battery powered tools produce lower vibration and noise levels than their non-battery counterparts.  However, there has been little research to confirm or dispute these claims.

With battery-based tools becoming an increasingly common sight in many workplaces, the importance of testing this claim has been recognised by the HSE. It is particularly important as tool buyers may use these figures as a means of assessing which tools to buy and include them within noise and vibration risk assessments.

A wide range of heavy-duty tools were tested including chainsaws, cut off saws, combi drills, reciprocating saws, impact drivers and angle grinders. The result of the research was mixed with no clear indicator that the battery-based tools did produce lower or higher vibration or noise than equivalent petrol or mains-powered tools. Certain battery tools such as the chain saws and impact wrenches consistently produced lower noise and vibration however in general there was no correlation between battery-based tools and lower vibration and noise emissions.

As a result the report argues that all tools should continue to be considered on an individual basis, as per established HSE guidance e.g. first finding the tool that most effectively does the required job, then considering noise and vibration, and finally managing the remaining risk the noise and vibration of the tools produces.

The report also found that many of the noise and vibration values measured differed from manufacturer’s declared data for the tools. The report suggests this was the result of differences in materials being tested on with tools being tested on stone producing noticeably higher noise levels than those being tested on metal regardless of whether they were battery powered, petrol powered or powered using mains electricity; some differences being as high as 20db.

A separate HSE report concerning the usefulness of manufacturer’s information in selecting low noise chainsaws explores these ideas further. For this investigation a series of chainsaws were purchased off the market and their noise was tested and compared to the noise levels stated in the manufacturer’s instructions that came with them.

Similar to the battery tool research there were some deviations between the measured numbers and manufacturer’s instructions that were attributed to the type of operation being completed with the chainsaw and the material the chainsaws were being used on however overall the researchers found that the manufacturer’s instructions gave a general indicator of noise levels and therefore would be useful in helping purchase new chainsaws and manage the associated noise risk. T

There were a few outliers who failed to apply the noise code properly resulting in a false indication of a low noise and even more concerning was that two of the chainsaws purchased did not include manufacturer’s instructions with noise data. This is a direct breach of legal requirements. This means that consumers of these chainsaws would not be able to compare and find low noise level chainsaws when purchasing.

The overall conclusions of the reports show the importance of checking the noise levels of tools prior to purchasing regardless of the type of tool or the way in which they are powered.

If you would like to receive information about risk management, please use the form below.