Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS)

Employees who regularly use power tools may be at risk of developing a range of occupational hazards related to the vibrating nature of hand held tools, these are collectively know as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS

The evidence is that many HAV assessments are seriously flawed, and that industry is storing up future problems despite the best of intentions. There is a minefield of opportunities for vibration risk management mistakes based on mis-information and lack of knowledge. At Thompsons, we have in-house experts that can lead you through the process, ensuring you are meeting current legislation.

The following is a step-by-step check list of the components of any effective HAV risk management programme that should be included in any risk assessment report. Contact us for more on any of the element(s) for which you need more information.

  1. Create a vibrating tool/plant register: always takes much longer and turns up many more tools than expected. Ensure there is sufficient information to define a tool and operation (“blue drill” is not sufficient!). At least make, model, accessory, the operation for which it is used and the material (metal, plastic, grass, scrub etc). Download and fill in our open-source HAV tool register and email to us to evaluate the assessment options for you (see below). Click here to download the free template HAV tool register.
  2. HAV risk assess – don’t measure unless you absolutely must. Surely everyone has already done this? The key HSE message is: “Don’t measure vibration unless you absolutely must”. Get a fast, very low-cost virtual assessment by email and use your resources to reduce risk instead.
  3. Implement an effective HAV risk management programme: include operational factors, working conditions, behaviour, ergonomics, symptom reporting systems etc. It does not include PPE as there is none.
  4. Reduce vibration via tool maintenance and vibration control measures: use HAVBase stats to evaluate which tools pose an increased risk as they wear to prioritise maintenance schedules. Increases in tool vibration from range from completely unaffected to very sensitive to tool condition. Retro-fit engineering modifications can substantially reduce vibration in some cases.
  5. Hire / Buy low vibration tools: base decisions on operational, productivity and ergonomic factors as well as levels of hand-arm vibration. Note: the common HAV traffic light system is based on manufacturers’ data that will often seriously underestimate risk.
  6. Training: as operator risk is very dependent on behaviour, training is an important risk management element – toolbox talks, management briefings and full HAV competency training as appropriate.
  7. Health Surveillance: introduce a programme for all workers likely to be exposed above the Exposure Action Value (A(8) of 2.5 m/s^2). This includes education, reporting system, health checks and communication.
  8. Audit the programme: check you are implementing best practice for all the elements above, in practice, not just on paper. We often find the audit will show disconnects between theory and practice and risk management can be improved in parallel with significant cost savings.

Manufacturers are under increasing commercial pressure from their customers to develop low vibration plant. The innovative low vibration handle developed by the INVC for a Dennis Mowers lawn-mower reduced operator exposure from 6m/s^2 down to 2m/s^2 – without compromising mower control. This is a dramatic improvement that would allow operators to use the mower all day without reaching the 2.5m/s^2 Exposure Action Value.

The benefits

  • Our Experts lead you through the process
  • You meet all current legislation
  • You avoid the high cost of injury at work claims
  • A safer working environment for your employees