The HAVS and the HAV nots
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is a debilitating condition caused by the continuous or frequent use of hand-held power tools and industrial equipment which emit vibration. Symptoms of HAVS include pain, numbness, tingling and loss of nerve sensitivity. These symptoms can cause pain, discomfort, sleep disturbance and an inability to pick up items.
Some companies supply anti-vibration gloves however the HSE warns;
“…[anti-vibration gloves] are not particularly effective at reducing the frequency-weighted vibration associated with risk of HAVS and they can increase the vibration at some frequencies.”
It is understood through research that they can in some cases do more harm than good as they give the wearer a false sense of security. They do provide warmth and a way to keep hands dry, however they are also believed to encourage the wearer to hold a stronger grip which worsens the effects of vibration.
Tasks involving equipment and tools which emit vibration must be subject to a risk assessment to identify control measures such as restricted usage, regular maintenance, breaks etc. using the HSE guidance found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/readyreckoner.htm.
- A company which failed to limit the duration and magnitude of vibration exposure to maintenance workers, was fined £100,000 after its health surveillance found six cases of HAVS.
- A steel fabricator was fined £120,000 after exposing employees to the risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
- They had failed to ensure its employees were given enough information, instruction and training on the effects of vibrating hand tools.
- The company had to pay an additional £7,000 in court fees.