Concerns are growing around the rising number of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) cases. The HSE report that cases have risen by over 300%, despite this being preventable.
The new cases of hand arm vibration have highlighted industries that were previously under the radar for vibration monitoring.
Current statistics show that service industries such as car mechanics and hospitality are now high-risk for hand arm vibration syndrome. This is in contrast to what was previously understood about hand arm vibration, construction being the most high-risk industry.
Causes of hand arm vibration
Whilst the effects of hand arm vibration are easy to spot, the HSE warn that cases are undetected due to lack of awareness about the causes.
Essentially, anyone using tools that cause vibration can be at risk. However, the use of vibrating power tools is previously thought to be isolated to those who were exposed to vibration for long periods. Does this now mean that HAVS can be a risk for anyone using their hands at work? And, what does this mean for employers?
Risks for hand arm vibration
Workers repeatedly exposed to vibration are at risk of developing hand arm vibration syndrome. The syndrome is collectively known as a set of symptoms in the hands that develops as a result of prolonged exposure to vibration. Workers develop damage to the soft tissues and nerves in the arms, hands and fingers.
This can occur when a worker is:
- Using hand held power tools such as sanders and jackhammers
- Frequently using hand guided equipment like powered lawn mowers
- Working with materials being processed by machines such as a pedestal or bench grinder
Yet despite this being a widely known health hazard, the HSE reports that thousands of cases of HAVS happen every year. And, with the addition of new industries, will vibration monitoring guidance change to include these? Furthermore, do we know the source of vibration for hotel workers, or mechanics?
Prioritising vibration monitoring
The need to prioritise measuring and monitoring of vibration is very real. The only way to protect workers and avoid costly fines is to not only demonstrate that vibration monitoring is understood, but to go the extra mile and actively prevent cases from happening.
Prevention is key, and this can be achieved by:
- Making sure you know who is using tools that cause vibration
- Monitoring high-risk employees to ensure exposure to vibration is not exceeded
- Putting steps in place to ensure exposure is kept to a minimum
Importantly, exposure can never be eradicated completely. For some workers they may have accepted that this is par for the course. However this may be because of a variety of reasons including:
- Lack of awareness
- Improper training
- Poor monitoring schedule
- Improper labelling of power tools
And you’d be surprised how common that is. Covid changed the focus for some employers, and added more work on to already stretched health and safety officers. Unfortunately, the HSE will fine any businesses they find to be non-compliant despite heavy workloads.
Vibration monitoring compliance
Thankfully, hand arm vibration can be prevented with the correct regulation compliance in place.
Our hand arm vibration, and whole body vibration services help avoid the problems associated with vibration at work. What’s more, we pride ourselves on having the capabilities to guide our customers on how to manage vibration before it becomes problematic!
Booking an assessment is the first step towards identifying where risk exists, and helps keep employees fighting fit! Loss of skilled workers is a real problem where vibration exists, so working towards compliance with Safety First Group can help you sta y above the competition and avoid those fines.
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We look forward to helping you with your vibration monitoring needs.