How to Measure Hand Arm Vibration Exposure (HAVs)

How to Measure Hand Arm Vibration Exposure (HAVs)

Working with vibrating tools is an everyday occurrence for many workers today. Using power tools is critical to many industries but there are significant health risks involved when exposed to powerful, vibrating tools.

The risk of HAVS (Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome) is so great that the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 was introduced in the hopes that those exposed to vibration at work could be protected from serious health and safety consequences. Employee health precautions and employer responsibility are tied into a health surveillance system that helps to detect and stop any potential damage before there is time for permanent issues to develop.

How Does HAVS Affect Workers?


HAVS is a condition that is caused by the transfer of vibration from power tools, through the point of contact and into the hands and arms of the worker using the tools. This condition can be very painful and cause serious distress in the lives of those affected by it. It can cause damage to nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints and even cause white finger, a painful side effect of HAVS.


Thankfully, risk assessments and protective industry standards have been implemented to protect workers and reduce the harmful exposure hand-arm vibration. How does hand-arm vibration testing actually work and what does the testing process look like?


How is Hand-Arm Vibration Exposure Measured and Detected?


Shaun from Principal Power Tools says: “The process begins by having proper vibration measurements and processes that can determine whether workers are exposed to dangerous levels of vibration”. Employees should report their use of vibrating tools and keep an accurate log of what tools were used and for how long. From there, a 5 tier system protects workers and creates a framework that helps them to stay healthy while working.


Tool Vibration Test and Measurements


Qualified technicians and engineers are brought in to test tools and to determine the level of vibration that employees are subjected to each time they are used. These tests provide precise information that will let employers and employees know if they are exposed to above-acceptable levels of vibration. 


Employee Reports and Health Surveillance


Health surveillance in the system in which employees can report any injuries or signs of HAVS so that they can be followed up with swift medical action. HAVS is a permanent condition if left too long and the purpose of reports is to protect employees from the disastrous consequences of hand-arm, vibration syndrome.


5-Tier System


The 5-tier system was designed to encompass every part of the process, from the initial questionnaire given to employees before they begin work with vibrating tools to the test conducted if HAVS symptoms are detected. The severity of the hand-arm vibration exposure is measured and assessed by a professional and then advice is given on how to move forward with their work.


Hand-Arm Vibration Exposure


Measuring hand-arm vibration exposure happens throughout the entire process and with the right steps in place, HAVS can be avoided and the damage minimised. With the measurements of the force on the workers through their tools and the measurement of the effects of the vibration on the worker’s arms and hands, a clear picture of the challenges can be attained and solutions brought to the table for everyone to benefit.

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