Tag: workplace safety

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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Tool servicing – Why it’s important to your business

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Here’s a commonplace scenario for many businesses, you purchase tools for important jobs and need them to be working consistently, but the question may be raised around the necessity of tool servicing and regular maintenance and if the extra cost is justifiable and you can just ‘get by’.

It’s a fact that broken tools result in downtime, which can affect your productivity, your relationships with your customers, compliance and even your staff morale.  So how can something like a comprehensive service package for your mission critical tooling equipment benefit your business.

Legal requirements

The main driver around tool safety is legal regulations, ensuring your business remains compliant with all the relevant legislation and fully complaint with the leading industry bodies is imperative.

The PUWER Regulations of 1998 are an important element to workplace safety, under regulation 4 it stipulates that “equipment should be suitable for the job.”  And, regulation 5, which focuses on maintenance goes on to state that “every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”

In order to remain complaint with these regulations you need to have a structured process in place for regularly maintaining and servicing your tools and equipment.

Prevent accidents

An employer has a duty of care to ensure a safe working environment and that any equipment used within their job role is safe and fully operational.  This is reflected under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1972 section 2 that highlights “Without risk to health so far as reasonably practicable.”

By regularly servicing your tools any potential issue can be identified and promptly resolved, this minimises the risks of any accident due to tools being faulty.

Improve productivity

Regular servicing of tools means any potential issues can often be avoided and if a fault does occur then swap out tools mean minimum downtime, so your staff can keep working, leading to a productive and efficient workforce across the year, keeping your essential projects on track and your customers happy.

Reduce vibration

Hand-arm vibration (HAVs) is vibration transmitted from work processes into workers’ hands and arms. It can be caused by operating hand-held power tools, such as road breakers, and hand-guided equipment, such as powered lawnmowers, or by holding materials being processed by machines, such as pedestal grinders.

If tools are not properly maintained, then vibration levels could exceed those approved and the employer could risk breaching Health & Safety regulations which pose massive fines and your staff could be left with a debilitating disability, which could have easily been avoided.

From a compliance perspective the Control of Vibration at Work 2005 Regulations focus specifically on reduced exposure times to vibrations and ensuring the levels of exposure are acceptable.  Regular tool servicing ensures that your tools are not exceeding these levels and remain safe for your company and your workers.

Cost efficiency

It’s simply not a cost effective business model to replace tools as they break and in many cases proves costlier in the long run. If you take the analogy of car servicing, when purchasing a new car, you maintain regular service schedules, this ensures your vehicle is working efficiently and any problems are addressed, there is also the need to adhere to manufacturer recommendations to keep the warranty valid. The same principle applies for your tooling.

Increased lifespan

By having your tools regularly serviced you will get the best from them and extend their lifespan and they are likely to last longer than if there was no service plan in place.  Exact tool servicing depends on specific manufacturer requirements and the shift patterns and workloads the tool is used for.

Whatever your requirement, Abbey has a range of bespoke servicing and preventive maintenance packages to suit all businesses that provide complete traceability, accountability and compliance.

To learn more about our comprehensive tool servicing packages click here.

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