Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted into workers’ hands and arms. This can come from use of hand held power tools (such as chainsaws and power hammers), hand guided equipment (such as powered lawn mowers and strimmers) or by holding materials being worked by hand fed machines (such as pedestal grinders). Whilst occasional exposure to hand-arm vibration is unlikely to cause any health effects, regular and frequent exposure can lead to permanent ill health.
Hand-arm vibration can result in damaged nerves, blood vessels and joints of the hand, wrist and arm, as well as a reduced blood supply, leading to a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
As well as severely limiting the jobs an affected employee can do, HAVS can also impact many family and social activities.
Identifying signs and symptoms of HAVS at an early stage allows the Council to take action to prevent the health effects from becoming serious for employees.
Some employees may develop symptoms after only a few months exposure to vibrating equipment, whilst for others it may take years. In each case, however, continued exposure is likely to lead to a worsening of the condition and permanent damage.
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations require the Council, as an employer, to assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration so that it can protect its employees from risks to their health.
Where the risks are low, the actions required may be simple and inexpensive, but where the risks are high, they should be managed using a prioritised action plan to control exposure to hand-arm vibration.
Where required, it must be ensured that control measures to reduce vibration are properly applied and that employees are provided with information, training and health surveillance.
Advice on HAVS can be obtained from both the Health and Safety Team, Tŷ Elai, Williamstown, CF40 1NY, telephone number 01443 425546, and from the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Unit, Municipal Buildings, Gelliwastad Road, Pontypridd, CF37 2DP, telephone number 01443 494003.