Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
(HAVS) Screening

An employer has a duty to provide health surveillance for all their employees who, despite actions to control the risk, are likely to be regularly exposed above the exposure action value or are considered to be at risk for any other reason. The Health and Safety Executive Guidance (HSG88) recommends a preventative approach to control the risk of injury.HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done, it is permanent.  

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 ensures that employers have to take notice, as the legislation puts risk management at the forefront of dealing with the problem. As with many liability issues, it is a difficult area but one where the reduction and even prevention of risk is a realistic goal.This sets out explicit duties that are only implicit under current provisions. 

HAVS  is commonly associated with tasks involving hand-held power tools, hand-guided equipment and holding of materials or workpieces that are presented for machining. 

Exposure to vibration can lead to damage to the structure and tissue of the hands and eventually lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Symptoms of  HAVS  can include impaired circulation – leading to Vibration White Finger, reduced sense of touch, numbness and tingling, stiffness of the joints, reduced grip strength and manual dexterity.  

HAVS  is commonly associated with tasks involving hand-held power tools, hand-guided equipment and holding of materials or workpieces that are presented for machining. 

The purpose of Hand Arm Vibration health surveillance is to: 

  • Identify anyone exposed or about to be exposed to hand-arm vibration who may be at particular risk, for example, people with Raynaud’s Disease. 
  • To identify any vibration-related disease at an early stage in employees regularly exposed to hand-held vibration. 
  • To help prevent disease progression and eventually disability. 
  • To help people stay at work. 
  • To check the effectiveness of control measures. 

Exposure to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) can lead to damage to the structure and tissue of the hands and eventually lead to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) Screening. Symptoms of HAVS can include impaired circulation (leading to Vibration White Finger), reduced sense of touch, numbness and tingling, stiffness of the joints, reduced grip strength and manual dexterity. HAVS is commonly associated with tasks involving hand-held power tools, hand-guided equipment and holding of materials or workpieces that are presented for machining.

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005

The Vibration Regulations came into force on 6 July 2005 and aim to protect workers from risks to health from vibration. The regulations introduce action and limit values for hand-arm and whole-body vibration. The regulations introduce an:

  • Exposure action value of 2.5 m/s2 A(8) at which level employers should introduce technical and organisational measures to reduce exposure.
  • Exposure limit value of 5.0 m/s2 A(8) which should not be exceeded.

Transitional period from the exposure limit value for hand-arm vibration until 2010 to allow work activities, where the use of older tools and machinery cannot keep exposures below the exposure limit value, to continue in certain circumstances .

HAVS  surveillance takes approximately 20 minutes and includes: 

  • A confidential questionnaire 
  • History of vibration exposure 
  • Hand examination 
  • Counselling 
  • Referral to a specialist medical consultant if necessary 
  • A record sheet for managers which will satisfy HSE requirements 

Hand Arm Vibration Monitoring 

Acorn Occupational Health can provide Occupational Hygienists to monitor Hand Arm Vibration exposure. The specialised equipment used measures vibration in three perpendicular axes simultaneously. The sum of the three axes is calculated in line with the requirements in the new regulations. 

In many cases, manufacturers’ claimed hand arm vibration levels for tools do not reflect the actual in-use levels. Usually, they are an underestimate. Measurement of tools in real use and collection of information on actual ‘on trigger’ times allows a much better estimate of actual exposure to be made which you can then include on your assessment. Measurement surveys can therefore provide the underlying information that you need to complete your assessments. 

 

Over 4 million workers were exposed to vibration at work 

Regular and frequent exposure to vibration can lead to permanent health effects. This is most likely when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular part of a person’s job. Occasional exposure is unlikely to cause ill health. Acorn OH can help your business identify and reduce the risk of hand-arm vibration for your employees.

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