A team from Nottingham Trent University is working on technology to alert workers when they experience vibrations likely to cause conditions such as vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.
The news comes on the back of figures from the Health and Safety Executive showing that more than 10,000 claims have been made for such issues over the past decade.
Professor Tilak Dias – who leads the university’s Advanced Textiles Research Group – said: “Prolonged use of power tools can result in a variety of musculoskeletal, neurological and vascular disorders.
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“But by using smart textiles, it could be possible to detect with accuracy when a worker is exposed to damaging levels of vibrations and help prevent such conditions occurring in the first place.”
The university is testing two millimetre-long vibration sensors and accelerometers hidden within tiny pods in the material.
Despite these technological enhancements, the gloves would appear normal to the naked eye and be completely washable.
When a dangerous level of exposure to vibrations is about to be experienced, the worker will be alerted to stop work.
Workers at risk are those who regularly use power tools, such as concrete breakers, grinders and hammer drills.
Dr Theodore Hughes-Riley, a research fellow at the university who is developing the technology, added: “By lowering the risk of exposure to dangerous levels of vibrations, we can help improve the lives of thousands of construction workers around the world by helping [to] prevent them [from developing] what can become permanent industrial diseases.”