HAVS - occupational hand arm vibration

HAVS : damage to fingers and hands from occupational hand arm vibrationOverexposure to vibration from power tools, machinery and vehicles can impact the human body in several ways and cause permanent damage. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates there could be up to 2 million people at risk of suffering from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS); a painful, disabling and irreversible condition affecting blood vessels, nerves and joints which over time can significantly affect people’s lives and abilities to carry out every-day tasks.

HAVs is RIDDOR reportable and the HSE has stated that it is one of its key focus areas as it begins to look more closely at occupational health risks in general. Recent high profile cases resulting in large fines such as that of Balfour Beatty (£500K (following on from £250 in 2016, and 130K in 2017)) demonstrate that these are not empty threats. A list of other recent claims and large fines is kept on our blog introducing the Pulsar vB.

The good news is that HAVS is preventable.

What can Employers do?

HAVS - Pulsar vB occupational Hand Arm vibration meter (HAV meter)As an employer, you must know your responsibilities under the Control of Vibration Regulations (2005). You are responsible for protecting your workforce against HAVS by restricting the use of tools that can cause hand-arm vibration and by identifying safer ways of working.

HAVS is caused by lengthy and/or repeated and frequent use of hand-held power tools which vibrate during use. Examples include: scabblers, drills, chainsaws, concrete breakers, sanders, grinders, disc cutters, chipping hammers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers and powered mowers. The medical profession agrees that repeated injury to the small nerves and blood vessels in the finger occurs over time from using these types of tools and, that gradually, this causes a loss of function, blood flow and injury.

The following steps may help in preventing HAVS:

  • Use a Hand Arm Vibration Meter (HAV meter), such as the Pulsar vBto:
    • carry out a risk assessment from the vibration exposure from power tools
    • set usage limits of high vibration tools
    • identify daily vibration exposure limits for each worker
  • Encourage staff to take regular breaks from their tools by doing other jobs in between
  • Train staff to use the correct tools for the job, in the correct way
  • Buy smooth! Use low vibration tools where possible
  • Ensure tools are well maintained
  • Encourage good blood circulation by keeping warm and encouraging staff to give up smoking.

Other companies such as Bam Nuttall, have gone one step further than this by starting to phase out the use of rock drills, hand breakers and scabblers by the end of 2018 to eradicate hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) risks in their workforce.

Hand Arm Vibration Measurement

Measurement of Hand Arm Vibration has seen many developments in recent years as the incidences of Hand Arm Vibration continue, and the numbers of and costs of civil compensation claims rise. The HSE in the UK encourages companies to undertake their own vibration measurements to help their workers. 

Small but mighty, the Pulsar vB, our latest measurement instrument, is the ideal HAV meter to measure the vibration of power tools and machinery and to help protect workers from HAVS. It’s simple to use, takes quick and reliable measurements of all of the essential parameters and offers effortless reporting.

Find out more about our range of HAVs meters here.

How can Pulsar Instruments help you?

Pulsar Instruments, established in 1969, is trusted for providing accurate noise measurement and monitoring instruments to Health & Safety Professionals worldwide. We have helped thousands of companies safeguard their workers’ hearing by providing meters that measure noise levels accurately and capture essential evidential data to avoid costly compensation claims. In the same way, we are now helping to protect workers from HAVS and companies from HAVS injury claims.

Our vibration meters, such as the Pulsar vB, are designed to meet the needs of vibration safety standards and regulations. We offer instruments that help assess risks, and monitor and tackle vibration issues in the workplace by providing accurate and valuable data and, that can be used to safeguard employees against HAVS and reduce the likelihood and impact of civil compensation claims.

At Pulsar Instruments we focus on customer care. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff make sure our customers choose the right meter for the job without blowing their budgets. We provide ongoing product and service support for our customers, as well as offering training and consultancy services.

You might also like

Our other blog posts:

Don’t lose touch! Contact us today to find out how Pulsar Instruments can help you