Harmful levels of vibration can occur in the workplace, causing damage to arms, hands, and fingers. This is known as HAV (Hand arm vibration). Sysco Environmental Ltd carry out HAV testing to measure the levels of vibration employees are exposed to. Vibration comes from hand-held/guided tools and equipment such as drills, impact wrenches, power saws, grinders etc. Handheld/guided power tools are used in many organisations which frequently expose workers to high levels of HAV. Serious exposure to HAV can impact both quality of life and work performance.
Here are some tips to assess and reduce the exposure to HAV:
- Identify hazards/employees
Observing and taking notes on working practises, noting what employees use power tools and equipment, see how long employees use power tools and for how long without breaks. Encourage staff to take regular breaks and to report any symptoms they may have or maybe experiencing.
- Evaluate all control measures
Observe what tools workers are using for what job, and make sure they have the correct tools to carry out a task. If possible, swap out any tools for ones with lower magnitudes of vibration, and for better designed tools. Cheaper equipment will have a higher magnitude of vibration and cause more damage.
- Record and assess
Record all control measures and create a plan to improve the control measures, if the tools being used are impractical and putting workers at more risk, make changes and upgrade. Always look for better solutions and safer ways to carry out tasks.
Always monitor how tasks are being carried out, from the control measures, to overseeing employees, making sure they are taking regular breaks and not overexposing to HAV. If the exposure limit is reached control measures must be reviewed and improved.
Sysco Environmental carried out a HAV assessment in Lincolnshire. The objectives of the assessment were to evaluate the daily exposure level to vibration of employees expressed as a daily exposure to vibration. Measurements were taken using a vibration analyser, the assessment was undertaken following the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and relevant guidance. The measurements were taken at the tool’s grip position whilst employees were carrying out normal daily tasks.
After a full investigation it was found that none of the employees are likely to be exposed to HAV exceeding the action value during a typical working day. However, on atypical days such as emergency repairs, a judgement must be considered regarding the likely vibration exposure.