Posted on: Feb. 23, 2023
The latest HSE data shows that the number of HAVS cases in 2021 had increased to well above the 2018 pre-pandemic levels (67% higher). The reason has to be that the current commonly implemented vibration risk control measures are not as effective as people assume and that improvements are needed.
There are 5 common HAVS myths that are still in circulation that should be dispelled once and for all. There is also a 6-element best practice checklist that should be used regularly to evaluate where, if, and what improvements to HAVS risk management processes could be made...
First a few enduring HAVS myths
PPE for HAVS: this is an oxymoron. There is no PPE for HAVS despite what the adverts say. Use gloves to keep hands warm.
Continuous vibration measurement for risk assessment: in most cases, this is costly placebo monitoring, mis-measurement and marketing hype. Tool timers - fine. Vibration dosimetry - most cost/benefit analyses (and the HSE guidance) say this is not a good use of resources.
Vibration control at source... is not possible. Don't write it off, sometimes it is eminently possible and practical
Buy / hire smooth: caveat emptor. Don't judge by manufacturers' data, use field testing including ergonomics and productivity.
Tool maintenance vibration measurements: using a HAV meter to assess free running tool vibration is a merit-free measurement for tool condition or operator exposure. You can do better...
Effective HAVS risk reduction checklist
These are the most common areas where improvements can be made in the use of resources to cut risk, some of which can also cut costs quite dramatically. Opportunities for more effective risk reduction at less cost?
- Tool vibration measurement: do you keep measuring tool vibration? Don't - unless you have to. Field measurements are time-consuming, costly and usually unnecessary. Use an accurate online HAVS vibration database or other reliable sources of field data as recommended by the HSE. Download, fill in and email us our template tool register or your own tool register for a rapid and low-cost virtual assessment from our HAVBase HAV database. Use the saved resources for item 3.
- Personal continuous vibration dosimetry: instrumented watches, rings, gloves. None measure to the required standard (BS EN ISO 5349) and are unsuitable for vibration risk assessment, period (HSE guidance and ASA ruling). The question to ask is: would more data change the required risk reduction actions and be cost-effective (cost/benefit analysis based on best practice and not on assumptions or marketing literature)? Use the saved resources for item 3.
- Risk reduction action: spend your resources on these rather than costly placebo measurements and monitoring as recommended in the latest HSE guidance. Guide to HAVS risk reduction programme elements.
- Buy / hire smooth: do you have an effective policy in place? Do you regularly go out to the market to evaluate new tools (many manufacturers have been very successful in reducing tool vibration through better design)? Do you evaluate potential new tool candidates based on ergonomics and productivity as well as vibration? Do you use tools such as HAVBase as a guide to new tool selection?
- Education: do you share company-specific, best practice information effectively throughout the organisation? From toolbox talks to full competency depending on staff roles? HAVS training options. Do you have an accessible online repository for up-to-date documentation and training material?
- Auditing: do you not only check whether company documentation is up to date with best practices but also regularly check that policy is implemented effectively in practice on the ground?
We provide best-practice technical support for all of these elements. Contact us to discuss any of the above...