The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations protect workers from risks to their health and safety from vibration. The regulations apply to the exposure of workers to both hand-arm vibration and whole-body vibration.
Hand-arm vibration is mechanical vibration which, during work activity, is transmitted into the hands and arms. Excessive exposure to hand-arm vibration can result in hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Injuries that can occur include damage to the blood circulatory system and sensory nerve damage. The most commonly reported disease under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations) has become HAVS, with those workers who use hand-held power tools over prolonged periods of time most at risk.
In addition, whole-body vibration is mechanical vibration which is transmitted into the body during a work activity. Injuries associated with regular long-term exposure to whole-body vibration include back pain and problems with posture.
Since the regulations were introduced in 2005, there have been some landmark cases and fines imposed. Since 2016 fines for Vibration-related prosecutions have totalled in excess of £2.3m.
With a floating workforce it is possible that an employee may come to you with the undiagnosed symptoms of hand-arm or whole-body vibration. If they then have Vibration an associated injury diagnosed, it is up to the current employer to report under RIDDOR. This may lead to an investigation by the HSE and whilst the harm may have been caused whilst working for a previous employer, any failure to manage the risks identified at your workplace may end up in a prosecution.
Duties under CVaWR:
- To identify if you have any vibrating tools in the workplace
- To carry out an assessment
- To eliminate the risk or reduce exposure so far as is reasonably practicable
- To provide training to employees on the risks
- To implement health surveillance
- To record exposure.
There are simple, non-technical and common sense measures which can be introduced to reduce exposure to vibration. When considering how to control the risks it is imperative that you follow the hierarchy of control:
- Eliminate vibration exposure by changing the work processes
- Reduce exposure by mechanisation
- Reduce exposure by good process control
- Avoid high-vibration tools, machines and accessories
- Maintain machines and accessories
- Reduce the transmission of vibration into the hand
- Reduce the durations of exposure (including job rotation)
- Keep warm and dry.
The Health and Safety Executive have an easy-to-use calculator to assist the employer assess employee exposure to vibration. It can be found here.
For any queries you have on this or any other health and safety matter in the workplace, call us on 03456 122 144.