Director Briefings Part 10: HAV You Got A Problem?
In this week’s Directors Briefing specialist health and safety solicitor Julia Thomas, Principal Consultants Dr Chris Nelson and Timothy Ward, and Senior Consultant Sue Hewitt, provide advice on managing hand-arm vibration in the workplace.
These days many people know about the risks of exposure to hand-arm vibration. Transmission of vibration to the hands and arms can cause painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves, and joints of the affected person, collectively known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, or HAVS. Judging by the numbers of people affected, however, it would seem that not so many people know that it’s possible to prevent workers suffering from serious or disabling HAVS if HSE guidance is followed and good management practices are adopted.
Finch’s latest cartoon takes a light-hearted look at what an employer needs to do to comply with current legislation and to eliminate the risks from hand-arm vibration exposure or to lower them to the lowest reasonably practicable level.
In the cartoon, there is a simple checklist of top tips or actions. More details on this checklist are provided here:
Top tips for managing hand-arm vibration in the workplace
- Understand the risks: Know where there are risks from vibration in the business, and why (what job roles or types of work involve significant risk, and what work equipment is involved) and identify priority areas for action.
- Meet the legal limits: Make sure no employee is exposed above the legal limit for hand-arm vibration.
- Eliminate and reduce: Put steps in place or develop a plan to make sure vibration exposure is eliminated or reduced where necessary. For example, design out the problem; if not possible then do the work a different way; select better-vibrating tools where their use is unavoidable and maintain the tools.
- Review: Put a system in place to identify new or emerging vibration risks in your business. Are your practices on elimination or reduction of exposure under review as technology and good practice in your industry changes? Do you ensure that systems and working methods are followed in practice?
- Train employees: Employees should be trained in your systems of work, proper use of tools and machines, and the signs and symptoms of vibration-related disease.
- Don’t needlessly monitor exposure: Continuous monitoring or recording of vibration exposure, whether with paper systems or electronic devices, is not a legal requirement and is generally not helpful.
- Check employees’ health: Provide appropriate health surveillance for people at risk of vibration-related disease. Your system should include details of how you will manage any ill health in employees.
- There is no effective PPE: No glove can be relied upon to reduce vibration exposure.
Below are links to some useful articles to assist you. It’s not as daunting as it may first seem, although you may wish to seek specialist help to get you up and running. Our vibration experts often advise clients on the management of hand-arm vibration, so if you do require some help, please do contact us, sooner rather than later. That way if you do receive a call from the HSE, unlike the MD of New and Shiny Construction in our cartoon, it won’t feel like the worst thing in the world.
For further information on managing hand-arm vibration in the workplace or other workplace safety issues please contact:
Julia Thomas: [email protected]
Dr Chris Nelson: [email protected]
Timothy Ward: [email protected]
Sue Hewitt: [email protected]
 , L140 “Hand-arm vibration. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations. Guidance for employers“.