Increase in Hand Arm Vibration Breaches on Construction Sites

A 33% YEAR on year rise in the number of ‘Hand Arm Vibration’ breaches recorded on construction sites has been reported by the Building Safety Group (BSG).

Figures showing the increase are derived from over 42,000 independent site inspections conducted over a two-year period (2017 to 2018). Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health.

Exposing workers to the risks of ‘Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome’ or ‘HAVs’ can result in symptoms such as such as tingling, pins and needles, numbness and hand pain. The condition can affect sleep and can cause difficulties in gripping and holding.

Between 2008 and 2017 there were over 7,000 new claims for HAVs according to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

BSG’s announcement coincides with a series of recent HSE site visits which have focused on vibration in construction as posing a serious health risk. HSE visits have frequently led to Fees for Intervention penalties being imposed.

Paul Kimpton, Managing Director for BSG .

Paul Kimpton, Managing Director for BSG commented: “Hand arm vibration can be a significant health risk wherever powered hand tools are used for prolonged lengths of time. And unfortunately, once the damage is done it is permanent.”

Paul continued, “However the good news is that HAVs are easily preventable. Construction companies need to find out what their workers’ exposure is likely to be, as part of a vibration risk assessment. The HSE advises that the employer carries out a period of monitoring to understand how long workers use particular tools in a typical day or week.

“Once you know enough about the work to say what the exposure is likely to be and whether it is likely to exceed either the ‘Exposure Action’ or ‘Exposure Limit Value’, focus can shift to investigating, as well as taking practical steps to reduce the exposure and the risks.”

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