Taking a new angle against power tool vibration

Angle, a venture management business specialising in the commercialisation of technology, has signalled its intention to enter the power tool industry with the launch of a new company called Innomatica.

The new business has secured intellectual property which it claimed could revolutionise the global market for percussive power tools by reducing operator exposure to vibration — the principal cause of medical conditions such as vibration white finger (VWF).

Last year new legislation known as the Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive was implemented throughout Europe, and was approved by the UK Parliament as The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations.

This will enforce specific limits on employee exposure to vibration in the workplace.

According to Innomatica, the only current method to reduce the vibrations generated by percussive power tools such as road drills is through increasing the mass of the tool, which in turn raises further regulatory and practical issues. The result is that employees either spend a limited time using the tool or use equipment specifically underpowered to comply with the regulations.

The company believes the solution to this problem is variable mass technology, developed over 10 years at CambridgeUniversity and power tool companies. This reduces vibration to a level that enables an operator to use a power tool up to four times as long as existing products, it is claimed.

Angle’s chief executive Andrew Newland said: ‘The power tools and construction industries are worth $1.2bn (£680m) a year and they have long awaited a solution to injuries caused by vibration power tools.’

In 2001, over 35 per cent of employer’s liability in insurance claims were for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), a condition caused by exposure to hand-transmitted vibration. The Health and Safety Executive estimates there are approximately 300,000 sufferers of VWF, the most common form of HAVS in the UK, with two million people regularly exposed to high levels of vibration.