Tag: PUWER

Hand Arm Vibration (HAVs) – What you need to know!

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What is Hand-Arm Vibration (HAVs)?

 The term Hand Arm Vibration or HAVs as it’s widely known is a serious issue for businesses and workers across the UK.

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Hand Arm Vibration is defined as: “Vibrations that are transmitted to workers’ hands and arms. This can come from use of hand-held power tools (such as grinders or road breakers), hand- guided equipment (such as powered lawnmowers or pedestrian controlled floor saws) or by holding materials being worked by hand-fed machines (such as pedestal grinders or forge hammers).”

Why is it so important?

Regular and frequent exposure to hand arm vibration can lead to permanent damage and ill health, more specifically – hand arm vibration (HAVs) and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).  These illnesses bring depilating symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the hands, loss of strength and painful fingers with changing weather conditions.  Using power tools on a regular basis if not properly assessed can have a significant impact, not only affecting the operator’s days to day activities, it can also seriously affect the ability their to work.

What laws apply?

All businesses that use machinery and tools which give off vibrations have to comply to a number of workplace legislations including:

  • Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management Health & Safety Works Regulations 1999
  • The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
  • PUWER Regulations 1998

The Control at Work Vibrations regulations stipulate that businesses need to ensure that the risks from vibrations are controlled, and that they provide adequate training and information to workers to ensure they are aware of the risks and what action is being taken and that there is suitable assessment and surveillance around the health of these workers.  Basically, it’s all about ensuring exposure is kept to an absolute minimum and ideally below an exposure action value (EAV) of 2.5 m/s² (100 points) and certainly below an exposure limit value (ELV) of 5 m/s² (400 points).

All employers have a duty of care to ensure that the risks from vibrations are at the lowest practical level possible.  Over recent years there have been many high-profile cases that have reached the headlines and this legislation does not just affect large businesses, any business large or small that uses equipment that omits vibrations has a legal responsibility to comply.

Risks for non-compliance are severe and businesses risk being faced with large fines.  Recent changes to the legislation have made the impact of non-compliance even more serious.

So, what’s changed?

New sentencing guidelines came into effect in February 2016, whereby any non-compliant businesses that have a claim against them for Hand Arm Vibration or any other health and safety offence can be fined at much higher levels.  These apply to the company and not the employee, so the burden is completely upon the company to ensure exposure to vibrations are minimised and workplace training is provided to mitigate the risks, providing a safe working environment for all employees.

Offence fines range from £50 right up to £10 million and are based on two categories: culpability and the size of the organisation.  For example, if a small business with a turnover of between £2M – £10M was found to be negligent, then the fine would range from £100 up to £1.6M, depending on the severity of the injury and culpability of what they did to negate the problem.

On top of that the operator/employee can put in their own claim against the company which is entirely separate to those from the HSE, so a non-compliant business could face some extremely high fines and compensation claims, not to mention the negative press and damage to their reputation.

Over the last six months’ ranges of fines published by the HSE come in at around £250K, but these are starting to ramp up, so be warned!

How can Abbey help?

We work with a range of clients to mitigate the effects of Hand Arm Vibration and ensure a safe and healthy working environment.

We provide a clear twelve step programme to help businesses become compliant, it’s specific to each company’s unique needs and specific exposure to Hand Arm Vibration and how this can be mitigated, offering advice, guidance and actionable points along the way.

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