Harmful levels of vibration may occur in the workplace, causing serious damage to the arms, hands and fingers over time.
This is known as Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) and can occur daily in the workplace. This vibration comes from hand-held and hand-guided tools and equipment; such tools and equipment include impact wrenches, drills, circular saws, grinders etc.
Hand-arm vibration can also occur when holding materials that are being processed by powered machinery; such as a pedestal grinder.
The Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 were set in place to protect employees from harmful levels of exposure to hand-arm vibration.
An assessment known as HAV testing can be used to evaluate and assess such vibration. HAV testing involves taking 3 x 30 second measurements of each handle of each tool to truly understand the vibration being transmitted from it.
Under these regulations, the exposure action value (EAV) is a daily amount of vibration exposure above which employers are required to take action to control exposure. The greater the exposure level, the greater the risk and the more action employers will need to take to reduce the risk. For hand-arm vibration, the EAV is a daily exposure of 2.5 m/s2 A(8).
There is also a level of vibration exposure that must not be exceeded. This is called the exposure limit value.
The exposure limit value (ELV) is the maximum amount of vibration an employee may be exposed to on any single day. For hand-arm vibration, the ELV is a daily exposure of 5 m/s2 A(8). It represents a high risk above which employees should not be exposed.
HAV testing takes into consideration these guidelines to assess every tool, providing daily limits.
If an employee is overexposed to hand-arm vibration, damaging health effects may occur; specifically, to the hands and fingers. This may be referred to as HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome). Symptoms of HAV may include:
- Loss of grip and strength
- Loss of light tough
- A tingling numbing sensation in the fingers
- Whitening of the fingers (especially in the cold and wet weather)
Vibration can cause changed in tendons, muscles, bones and joints and can even affect the nervous system.
Sysco Environmental has a wealth of experience and knowledge in HAV testing in the workplace. We have worked on thousands of HAV testing projects and can assist in monitoring the vibration of tools and equipment to produce a detailed and informative report and recommendations to reduce the risk of hand-arm vibration as much as possible. Our hygienists are always on hand to give expert advice regarding HAV testing and can answer any concerns.
Here at Sysco Environmental Ltd we can arrange an assessment and set out a criteria for employers to follow, we monitor and follow the Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 standards to ensure employees are working safely and to the guidelines.