Hand Arm Vibration Surveys

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a disorder resulting from prolonged exposure to vibration, specifically to the hands and forearms while using vibrating tools, including hand-held or hand guided power tools and machines.

What is HAVS?

According to the HSE, there are nearly 2 million people at risk from suffering from this condition [see article]. Hand arm vibration can be a significant health risk wherever powered hand tools are used for significant lengths of time.  This is especially so in foundries construction and heavy fabrication including ship building.

Symptoms include:

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers
  • Not being able to feel things properly
  • Loss of strength in the hands
  • Fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery (particularly in the cold and wet, and probably only in the tips at first).

Here are some top tips to prevent HAVS in your workplace

  • Make sure that equipment selected or allocated for tasks is suitable and can do the work efficiently. Equipment that is unsuitable, too small or not powerful enough is likely to take much longer to complete the task and expose employees to vibration for longer than is necessary.
  • Where tools require continual or frequent use, introduce employee rotas to limit exposure times.
  • Provide your employees with protective clothing when necessary to keep them warm and dry. This will encourage good blood circulation which should help protect them from developing vibration white finger.

HAVS Surveys

RPS have highly trained occupational hygiene consultant who can complete HAVS surveys on site, the survey will involve:

  • Reviewing working practices and discussion with staff to see if there are any possible improvements that can be made
  • Measurement of hand vibration levels using a Bruel & Kjaer Type 4447 Human Vibration Analyser. Measurements will be conducted on hand-held tools such as, sanders, polishers, grinders, drills, bolt guns, ratchets and air chisels.
  • Collection of relevant site information including the type and performance of controls in place, the activities monitored, equipment usage and management control systems in place.

The results of the investigation will be used to assess whether existing control measures are adequate and will assist the client in complying with The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. This information can be used to determine if employees will need to have health surveillance carried out for HAVS assessments.

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