Industrial Noise & Vibration Centre

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Separating HAVS fact from fiction and misinformation

Hand-arm vibration mythology is creating unnecessary financial and human costs...

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The depressing evidence is that many HAVS risk management programmes are seriously flawed and that industry is not only wasting fortunes on ineffective risk reduction measures, but is also storing up future problems despite the best of intentions. There is a minefield of opportunities for vibration risk management mistakes based on misinformation and myth - very costly mistakes that are, unfortunately, actively encouraged by many suppliers in the vibration measurement industry.

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View the video of the joint INVC/IOSH webinar that cuts through the myths and provides a definitive summary of what constitutes HAVS risk management best practice here >

The following are some of the most common areas for errors covered in the video:-

HAV mis-measurement – monitors measuring vibration to no standards whatsoever…

Misunderstanding HAV measurement and monitoring marketing material can put hands and safety policies at risk. Caveat emptor. Some claims made by some suppliers of the latest “HAV monitors”, “HAV dosimeters”, “vibration monitoring gloves” etc are disingenuous, misleading end-users as to the limitations inherent in these vibration monitors. None of these alternative HAV measurement techniques provide values that can be used for a reliable assessment of the vibration exposure of operators as required by BS EN ISO 5349-1 2001. Read the full details of why hand-arm vibration dosimeters, hand, glove or wrist-mounted transducer vibration measurement systems do not provide vibration values to the standard.

Manufacturers’ Hand-Arm Vibration Data – it’s data, but not necessarily assessment data

HAV traffic light

Manufacturers’ updated declared values (to BS EN ISO 8662; EN 60745; EN ISO 20643 - which they have to provide under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008) are often used as the basis for "traffic light" risk ranking by hire companies. However, whilst useful as an initial estimate, you cannot use these figures for accurate risk assessment unless you can show that they are representative of your real-use tool vibration. Be particularly careful where the operator dose may be close to action or limit values as there can be serious consequences. Quoting the HSE guidance – “…you will still need to check with the manufacturer that the vibration emission declared in the equipment’s handbook is representative of your normal use of the equipment.” Consider the commercial pressure on suppliers not to go out of their way to publicise the higher vibration values often associated with real field use.

HAVBase can be used to aid optimum tool selection as part of a "Buy/Hire Smooth" policy to minimise HAVS risk.

Hand-Arm Vibration Measurement Accuracy – don’t measure unless you have to…

Accurate HAV measurement is time-consuming and expensive – and often unnecessary. In fact, you may never need to measure vibration again by heeding the HSE guidance that recommends using accurate published field vibration data wherever possible (e.g. HAV-Base). Incorrect transducer mounting and other technical mistakes have led to inaccurate field vibration measurements that can under-estimate vibration risk by factors of x2 to x20. We do measure, often, but take great care to ensure the data is valid.

Repeated Vibration Monitoring – and also repeated monitoring

Save your time and money. Once you have good data for your tools and operations, you never have to repeat the process unless you change tools or your operating procedures. Many companies spend a fortune on unnecessary repeat measurements, costly monitoring systems and procedures when it would better be spent on new, low vibration tools and other measures that actually reduce the risk.

Hand-Arm Vibration PPE – an oxymoron

There is no generally effective PPE for HAV, despite claims by some AV glove suppliers. In fact, it is often likely that so called “AV” gloves may actually increase the risk due to their effect on ergonomics.

HAVS Risk Management - learn what constitutes best practice

Our IOSH certified hand-arm vibration competency course covers the state of the art. Versions are also available as in-house and online management briefings or bespoke, industry-specific HAVS workshops.