Protecting Yourself from Noise and Vibration

You probably glossed over the sound and vibration section of your Billy Goat equipment manual, but these two factors can have a big impact on the health of you and your employees. Here’s what these numbers mean, and what you can do to protect everyone using your equipment.
Billy Goat measures their equipment using ISO 11094 and ISO 5395, which are standard tests for measuring noise from outdoor equipment. That means you can do an apples-to-apples sound comparison between a Billy Goat product and equipment from other manufacturers. Measurements are taken at the operator’s position, so they accurately predict real world noise exposure.
Extended exposure to sounds over 70 dB can cause hearing damage. Virtually any machine powered by a small engine will produce at least 85 dB of noise. At that level, hearing damage can occur after one or two hours. The moving parts of the machine also add to the noise. Billy Goat’s walk-behind blowers are the loudest type of equipment they make, with models making around 95 dB of noise.
Ear plugs and muffs decrease the sound reaching your ear by their dB rating. For example, if you’re wearing 22 dB ear muffs while using equipment that makes 90 dB of noise, your ears are exposed to 68 dB of noise. When you’re choosing hearing protection, be sure there’s enough noise being blocked to bring the level below 70 dB.
Over time, extended exposure can lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS.) This can cause numbness in the fingers and muscle weakness. Up to 1 in 10 people who work with vibration tools regularly may develop HAVS. This typically progresses from numbness after using tools to occasional numbness and finally permanent loss of feeling. Likewise, blood vessel damage can lead to Raynaud’s syndrome (white finger) in cold weather, and eventually permanent damage. Vibration exposure can also contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Research into vibration damage is relatively new. While the European Union warns against prolonged exposure over 0.5 m/s2, there aren’t any concrete regulations in the U.S. OSHA recommends frequent monitoring of employees, so that risk factors are identified early. When it comes to lawn care equipment, it may be best to take a proactive approach with maintenance and personal protective equipment.
Vibration gloves should be EN ISO 10819:2013 and/or ANSI 105-2016 certified. Unlike hearing protection, this is a pass/fail standard. Gloves that meet these standards reduce vibration transfer by 40% in frequency ranges strongly associated with nerve damage.
Vibration dampening materials are bulky, which can limit dexterity. Before you buy a set of gloves, try a few pairs on. Some designs allow for more finger movement than others. This is important for safety as well as comfort. Gloves that force you to grip handles tightly increase vibration transfer. Likewise, the gloves should have good insulation or good breathability, depending on whether you’re working in hot or cold weather. This helps your hands maintain circulation, reducing blood vessel damage.
It’s also important to maintain your equipment. Imbalanced blades, loose bolts and poorly-tuned engines don’t just increase wear and tear on your equipment, they also increase the vibrations experienced by the operator. Keeping up on repairs can greatly reduce exposure.
Keep Your Equipment at Peak Performance
If you need something for your Billy Goat equipment, you can get it at Billy Goat Parts. We’re a certified dealer for Billy Goat and their manufacturing partners, which means we’re able to ship OEM parts and accessories for your aerator, blower, debris load, or anything else from the company to any address in the U.S. and Canada. Visit us at

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