hand arm vibration

Company fined after exposing employees to risk of hand arm vibration

Company fined after exposing employees to risk of hand arm vibration

In this article, Health & Safety Consultant Adam Williams discusses the importance of health surveillance drawing on a recent hand arm vibration case.

A company was fined after they failed to protect their workers from exposure to vibration in the workplace.

The company’s operations involved their employees carrying out work that included using vibrating tools.  Their workers would use these tools over a number of years. Furthermore, the company failed to implement systems to control their workers’ exposure to vibration.

The use of hand-held power tools over a long period of time, if not controlled, can lead to hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This can cause a loss of strength in the hands and can also cause tingling and numbness in the fingers. It is preventable, yet permanent. Nearly 2 million people are at risk of HAVS.

It was found that the company didn’t have a sufficient hand arm vibration risk assessment in place. In addition, it was found that their health surveillance was inadequate.

This case shows the importance of implementing procedures that protect workers from exposure to hand arm vibration, as well as other injuries. Plus, it highlights that health surveillance is adequate so that any symptoms can be identified.

What procedures can be implemented to protect workers from exposure to hand arm vibration?

As detailed on hse.gov.uk:

  1. Limit the time that your employees are exposed to vibration.
  2. Plan work to avoid individuals being exposed to vibration for long, continuous periods – several shorter periods are preferable.
  3. Where tools require continual or frequent use, introduce employee rotas to limit exposure times (you should avoid employees being exposed for periods which are long enough to put them in the high risk group).
  4. Provide your employees with protective clothing when necessary to keep them warm and dry. This will encourage good blood circulation which should help protect them from developing vibration white finger.
  5. Gloves can be used to keep hands warm, but should not be relied upon to provide protection from vibration.

And to check if the procedures that have been implemented are working, companies should:

As detailed on hse.gov.uk:

  1. Check regularly that the programme of controls you have introduced is being carried out by your managers and employees.
  2. Talk regularly to your managers, supervisors, employees and trade union safety representative or employee representative about whether there are any vibration problems with the equipment or the way it is being used.
  3. Check the results of health surveillance and discuss with the health service provider whether the controls appear to be effective or need to be changed.

Setting up a health surveillance scheme:

Employers should put a health surveillance scheme in place if a risk assessment identifies it. When implementing it you should:

  1. Identify all of the health hazards where health surveillance is required.
  2. Identify which workers are exposed to the health hazards and ensure they receive the correct health surveillance.

It is also advised to speak to an occupational health professional for advice and decide who will be responsible within your company for managing the health surveillance scheme.

What can HPC do to help prevent an incident like the above from occurring in your business?

Here at HPC, we have knowledgeable and experienced consultants that can act as your competent health and safety person. We can carry out risk assessments, such as hand arm vibration risk assessments, which we review annually or when there has been a significant change. We can also advise on when a health surveillance scheme should be set up and how to implement it.

Please get in touch with the Health and Safety team if you require any support with your health and safety requirements.

To find out more information about how HPC can support you with your health and safety requirements, get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037

E: contact@hpc.uk.com

Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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