HAVS and the have-nots29 October 2020

Following new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance published in August, H&S consultancy Inspire International offers advice to commercial vehicle dealerships about the risks of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) caused by prolonged exposure to vibration tools.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently reported that up to 2 million people are at risk of HAVS. Alongside this, the HSE has published a new HAV Inspection and Enforcement Guidance document (available via link below). Aimed at inspectors, the guidance provides a consistent framework for assessing compliance and making enforcement decisions.

Inspire International offers tips on how to complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and control risks posed by HAVS within the commercial vehicle workshop:

  • Prioritise risk assessments, not just tool assessments. A risk assessment is required as a legal document by the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
  • Review your HAV tools at least once a year. By their very nature, basic tools can get damaged easily and larger tools can deteriorate quickly. Regularly monitoring tools will avoid HAVS and additional cost implications of replacing worn out tools
  • Review your tools at different times throughout the year. The weather can impact the efficiency of your tools so alternate the seasons in which you test them
  • Educate technicians on the regulations (alongside managers). Technicians have a responsibility to ensure tools are fit for purpose and used correctly
  • Introduce a purchasing policy. Make your employees and customers aware that your business only buys high quality tools and expect freelance technicians to use tools of the same standard
  • Limit the number of tools on site to limit the risk factor. Decide on a sensible number of tools for each technician to have in their toolbox. Test those tools and discard the ones that don’t meet the requirements
  • Know exposure limits. Ensure your team is educated on the guidelines around exposure limits, for example if a tool exceeds five metres per second for an eight-hour period, it falls into the red zone

Managing director of Inspire International Jagjeet Virdee comments: “Using vibratory tools within your workshop introduces a number of risks specific to HAV which can be very significant if not managed – not only for employees but more importantly for the business itself.

“HAVS can be controlled by reducing vibration exposure of vibration transmitted to the hand and/or the time spent holding vibrating equipment. Regularly monitoring your employee’s usage of tools and the tools themselves will enable your workshop to continue running efficiently and avoid any unwanted fines.

“Managers must have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for all HAV tools - they need to be thorough and cover every tool you have in the workshop. The results should be properly documented and not only logged as data but actioned to ensure all vibratory tools machinery is safe to use.”

There are five sections within the regulations which must be followed accordingly: assessing/measuring tools and collecting data, observational studies, health surveillance, staff instruction and training and carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment that encompasses all of the above. All of these components must be carried out to provide a holistic review of the HAV tools within your workshop, the company adds.

Operations Engineer

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