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HAVS/WBV – Control of Vibration at Work


The problem

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a widespread occupational health problem. It has been estimated that there are 36,000 people with advanced stage of Vibration White Finger (VWF) and hundreds of new cases are reported each year. Following high profile cases in the press, it is also currently one of the most common reasons for occupational ill health claims against employers.

In severe cases VWF can be a very disabling condition, resulting in amputation of fingers, inability to perform simple tasks (dealing with buttons, shoelaces and many other day to day tasks). Like noise, the effects are cumulative and irreversible. Unlike noise, the use of simple personal protective equipment is not an option.

EC Directive on Physical Agents (Vibration) became law in the UK in July 2005 with the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The Directive deals not only with hand-arm vibration, but also whole body vibration. Typical activities resulting in vibration exposure include:-

– Use of vibrating hand tools, including jack hammers, chipping hammers, drills, grinders, sanders, nut runners, Riveting hammers, strimmers, chain saws etc.
– Holding vibrating work pieces while grinding, linishing, sanding, drop forging and stamping.
– Use of hand guided equipment, e.g. lawnmowers, floor polishers, impactors.
– Whole body vibration from driving of construction, mining and quarrying plant, agricultural machinery etc.

The Solution

HSE advice is that employers do not necessarily need to carry out vibration measurements provided a reasonable estimate of exposures can be made from other sources (e.g. manufacturers information, available data from HSE or a number of websites). The problem is that manufacturers data can be misleading and often underestimates exposure, and vibration values can vary widely depending upon particular local conditions, individual techniques of operatives etc. Insurers are likely to regard actual workplace measurements as more reliable and more useable as a defence against claims. 

Scenic Acoustic & Vibration Engineering Ltd is able to offer hand arm vibration assessments to assess the risk to employees and advise on methods of control. Assessments are carried out by experienced and qualified personnel. We will also be able to offer a whole body vibration measuring service should this be required.

Contact us

Tel: 01229 871171
Mobile 07855 253 458

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