Tag Archives: HAVS

Hand arm vibration (HAV) – are you really managing the risk?

All of us have our pet subjects.  Some of us do tend to bury our heads in the sand for areas in which we’re not as competent.  You may, if you are honest with yourself, have a hit list of subjects which you mean to ‘review’ at some stage.

Local IOSH groups or similar can be a really good place to start in tackling these issues.  Other professionals will have been there before and will have found out its really not as bad as you might think.

Once area we think you should look at afresh is controlling the risk from vibration.  We’ve been involved in assessments for many years now so if you need some help and advice just let us know.  If you’re still looking for that ‘good reason’ to make a start read the case below….

Company fined for failing to manage vibration risks

Newfield Fabrications Company, a manufacturer of steel components based in Cheshire, was fined £120,000 for failing to ensure that the risks to employees were adequately controlled.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court heard that in late 2015 the welder, who had worked at the company for several years, was given a job that involved a large amount of grinding and polishing.

After a few hours on the job, he began to experience numbness and tingling, commonly an indicator of exposure to high levels of vibration.  He asked to swap with another worker but he was told by his supervisor to carry on with the work.

A few weeks later, a 20 year old apprentice welder also began to suffer from vibration-related symptoms after using similar equipment.

An HSE investigation found that Newfield Fabrications failed to control employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration. The firm also failed to give its employees sufficient information, instruction and training on the effects of working with vibrating hand tools.

Newfield Fabrications pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 8(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations.

According to the company’s accounts, it had a turnover of £7.7m in 2016 and made a pre-tax profit of £118,826.00 and so the £120,000.00 fine plus the £7241.00 costs is a significant sum for its Directors to find.

HSE inspector Helen Jones said:

“This is a case of the company failing to protect workers using vibrating tools. Exposure to hand arm vibration is a well-known risk which the company failed to adequately control.

“The company also failed to ensure workers were looked after when symptoms did arise leading to further exposure. This was wholly inadequate, and led to two employees suffering significant health effects.”

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Hand arm vibration – are you doing enough?

vibration white fingerHaving read of a recent case where a company was fined £200,000 plus £27,724 costs for a HAVS incident has made us revisit the vibration issue here in the office.

Each of us already know that the emphasis from HSE and our insurers is now firmly on health as well as safety.  We reported nearly two years ago that occupational deafness has become the new whiplash with claims rocketing and payouts of well over £10,000.

Vibration monitoring and assessment

We liken HAVS to COSHH and DSEAR as one of those areas which many of us know that we should tackle head on but we often find a number of other more pressing things we need to do instead – if this is you read on or make contact with your retained consultant to have a 5 minutes chat and find out more.

The truth is that many of us have made a good attempt as assessing our vibration risks and in many cases have felt that it wasn’t quite s bad as we had feared once we had got started.  However, as its something most of us don’t tackle every day that familiarity soon wears off and we find ourselves back as square one making he same old excuses.  Its also worth remembering that this dates back to the 1990’s and so we have very little in the way of excuses when it comes to defending cases or demonstrating our own safety management qualities to the Board.

Although the risks are certainly real the damage takes a long time to manifest, what we have to remind ourselves of is that this, like occupational deafness, isn’t going to reverse itself and the consequences for the person can be life changing.

You have in essence two choices; complete your own assessments or call in ourselves as external experts to complete this for you.  We can often work from manufacturers data and so costs are competitive and even if you do have specific processes which require vibration to work we can always monitor these individually and arrive at not just an answer in terms of exposure but also good advice on how you can control and reduce exposure.

So, don’t stick your head in the sand and hope this will go away or kid yourself that you’ll get around to it soon – if you need help just ask and if you’re too busy to be able to complete internally just ask your consultant, we’ll be glad to help out.

Contact form

Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.