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What is Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?

22 May 2018

Author: Nick Mole 

What is Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a widespread recognised industrial disease which is affecting thousands of workers every day. When asking what is hand arm vibration syndrome, in simple terms it is a disorder which affects the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. It is normally caused by excessive, long-term exposure to working with tools that vibrate. 1 in 10 people who work regularly with vibrating tools may develop hand arm vibration syndrome.

hand arm vibration syndrome is preventable but once the damage is done, it is permanent and it can become very costly. New ‘No Win No Fee’ claims companies are increasing. Awards at Court have increased significantly and out of court settlements are becoming less attractive to claimants.

What the law says

The Vibration Regulations require you to:

  • Make sure that risks from vibration are controlled

  • Provide information, instruction and training to employees on the risk and actions being taken to control the risk

  • Provide suitable health surveillance

The Vibration Regulations include an exposure action value (EAV) and an exposure limit value (ELV) based on a combination of the vibration at the grip points on the equipment or work-piece and the time spent gripping it.

The exposure action and limit values are:

  • A daily EAV of 2.5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a clear risk requiring management

  • A daily ELV of 5m/s2 A(8) that represents a high risk above which employees should not be exposed

Metal Fabrication Supplies offer a Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Audit Service to all of our customers, who's employees could be exposed to the harmful vibration levels whilst using power tools and the consumable products used in conjunction with them.

Acquiring actual measurements taken with a vibration meter can be time consuming and difficult to perform, many evaluators use the declared valaues given by the manufacturer of the tool. The problem with this is that even though the declared values are measured according to the relevant ISO standards, the measurements are taken in well-definded situations that do not represent the values for the specific work-situation being carried out. Real life assessments are typically 1/3rd higher than those supplied by the manufacturer.

There can be considerable differences between workplaces, operators, consumables and applications. This means that exposures based on manufacturers declared values, can only be rough estimations of the values that an operator may be exposed to when using the tool in real production situations. 

Being an independent distributor, we offer some of the most productive power tools and consumable combinations available. They are selected to help reduce trigger times, and importantly they will deliver the lowest vibration levels possible.

What is Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Our technicians are certified and accredited by the Institution of Diagnostic Engineers to carry out all Hand Arm Vibration testing.

Step one: We will arrange an initial consultation with your Business Manager to assess if we can help with your employee’s exposure to HAVS. We will need to know what make and type of tools are being used, what brands and types of consumables are being used, what processes are the grinders and consumables being used for, are HAVs records or data currently available and are the grinders being serviced on a regular basis.

Step two: Then we will arrange a date (normally within two weeks after the consultation) for one of our fully qualified HAVS testers to visit and carry out an evaluation. We will need to carry out a five-stage process to ensure your tools are HAV tested to the highest standards.

  1. Assessment – we need to ensure the tools being tested are safe to use and are in good working order. If there are any issues we come across and the tool is unsafe, then no test can be carried out but we can offer our repair service.
  2. Preparation – we then need to mount the HAVS meter to the tool as close to the trigger position as possible.
  3. Testing – this involves testing the tool in all application types, in some cases two or three tests may be carried out the determine the highest vibration value.
  4. Test results – once the tools have been tested we will record the readings. Based on this information we are then able to work out how long that particular tool in this application can be used for.
  5. Reporting and certification – we then provide a detailed and impartial report on each application which is compiled using the data gathered during testing. Where the same tool is to be used for multiple applications, the test results for each test and possible risk level will be shown.  The results can then be used to assist with your own company risk assessment.

Application risk values will be colour coded as per the HSE recognised “Traffic Light” system:

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Traffic Light System

Step three: As part of our HAVS tool monitoring service, the data is recorded for all the tools tested on site. The data stored includes

  • Make, model and ID number of the tool
  • The current consumables used with the tool
  • Condition of the tool
  • Vibration magnitude and possible risk to exposure of each application

Vibration levels on existing grinders can alter when parts start to wear, with a satisfactory maintenance schedule it can help to maintain consistent vibration levels. We can offer a preventative maintenance programme on all grinders sold from our range, recalling them for servicing on a planned and managed schedule. This will ensure that tools are kept in the best possible condition.


Fill out your details below to enquire about your free HAVS audit. For a limited time only.

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