Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a painful and disabling disorder of the blood vessels, nerves and joints that can result from the long-term gripping of power tools that transmit vibrations. The issue gained prominence in the 1990’s following a large number of civil claims from ex-miners and others in heavy industry. In 2005, The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations was introduced to protect workers from this risk.
Unfortunately, even now we are still seeing HSE prosecutions for organisations that have failed to protect their employees. In October 2017, Wrexham Council was fined £150,000 after it admitted failing to ensure workers using vibratory tools were not affected by HAVS. Flintshire Magistrates’ Court found that Wrexham council had written policies in place, but no adequate system was put into practice to ensure their policies were being adhered to. Similarly, as recently as March 2018, the HSE found that employees of a community housing association, Tai Calon Community Housing, were routinely exposed to vibration in their day-to-day work.
These cases highlight the ongoing relevance of reviewing procedures and addressing the risks of HAVS in the workplace. Across the public sector, those working in construction, engineering and motor vehicle repair are most at risk. Symptoms – such as tingling, loss of strength and fingers turning white – can take many years to emerge and can lead to employer’s liability claims arriving long after exposure. Crucially, HAVS is preventable, and RMP is well placed to assist authorities with this health and safety risk.
For advice on how to minimise the risk to employees whose job involves hand-held power tools, click here.
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Risk Management Partners Limited is authorised and regulated
by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Registered office: The Walbrook Building 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AW.
Registered in England and Wales. Company no. 2989025.