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27th February 2017

Report claims 42% increase in hand-arm vibration non-compliance

The UK’s largest construction safety group – Building Safety Group – has issued a report detailing a 42% rise in the number of hand-arm vibration non-compliance identified during their regime of site inspections.

The increase was recorded over 20,000 site inspections conducted by the Group in 2016. The figure compares the first six months of the year to the second six months.

What is hand-arm vibration syndrome?

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) has a number of symptoms including pins and needles, numbness and pain in the affected persons’ hands. The condition can have an effect on an individual’s sleep when occurring at night. It can also lead to difficulties in gripping and holding.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is keen to clamp down on HAVS non-compliance. This was highlighted when a pipe manufacturer reported seven cases of HAVS or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) between April 2014 and July 2015.

Additional failings

Subsequent investigations found insufficient training, risk assessments and a lack of health surveillance in place at the business in question. The business was subsequently fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £27,724.

Paul Kimpton, Managing Director of Building Safety Group says, ‘Everyone controlling construction site work has ‘health’ and not just ‘safety’ responsibilities. Checking that working conditions are health before work begins is essential for safeguarding against the too often devastating impact of illness related to occupational health. This of course requires careful planning and organisation beginning with the implementation of ‘Health Surveillance’ to monitor workers exposed to such risks as HAVS.’

The law imposes a strict Exposure Action Value (EAV) and Exposure Limit Value (ELV) with the HSE issuing specific guidance on how to measure and control exposure. The guidance notes on the subject can be found here, with a calculator tool to measure exposure available here.

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