Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome: The Dangers and Solutions.
HAVS can be a very serious yet common condition among industry workers. The continued use of tools and machinery that send vibrations up the arm can lead to severe and permanent ailments. However, HAVS is a very preventable condition as long as the correct health and safety protocols are put in place to safeguard yourself or your employees.
What is HAVS?
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, sometimes referred to as White Finger, is a disease that can affect nerves, joints, muscles, blood vessels or connective tissues of the hand and forearm.
Effects and symptoms of HAVS include:
- Tingling, numbness or whiteness in the fingertips.
- Loss of dexterity.
- Painful reaction to cold temperatures.
If left alone, these symptoms will persist and eventually become permanent.
Both exposure to heavy vibration for a short time or light vibration for a prolonged period can cause HAVS so it is important to provide employees with the information they need to work with tools safely.
What kind of tools can cause HAVS?
Any power tool or hand-held machinery that may send vibrations up the arm can put you at risk of HAVS, such as:
- Hammer action tools
- Chainsaws / trimmers
- Sanders / grinders
These are only a few examples but there are a wide variety of tools that may cause HAVS meaning many industries must take care to avoid subjecting their employees to prolonged exposure to vibrations. Particular industries may include:
- Building / construction
- Heavy engineering
How can HAVS be prevented?
Since its introduction into the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in 2005, The Control of Vibrations at Work Regulations states that all employers must trace and track vibration levels of all tools in the workplace to prevent HAVS. Although this may seem like a daunting task, it is actually fairly straight forward thanks to many useful products and services available to industries. The most common procedure is to hire engineers to test each tool and then attach appropriate tags and labels to warn employees of vibration levels. Many industries use this tried and tested method of HAVS prevention, however, once the testing is complete it is important to continue to monitor vibration levels to ensure tools and machinery are operating to a safe standard.
Software such as Earlsmere’s TOOLMINDER can help employers track and trace vibration levels of every tool used in the workplace. Employees can attach a HAVmeter to a tool to record vibration levels during the course of its use. This data is then seamlessly transferred to TOOLMINDER and stored to ensure no employee is subject to dangerous levels of vibration for too long. When it comes to health and safety auditing, this information can be easily viewed as proof that you are adhering to health and safety legislation.
As previously mentioned, HAVS poses a threat to employees in huge range of industries. If you believe you or your employees are at risk, or if you are interested in updating your current HAVS prevention system then contact us to see what solutions we have to offer.