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12th September 2019

Managing Hand Arm Vibration Risks

What is hand-arm vibration?

Hand-arm vibration (HAVS) is vibration transmitted from work processes into workers’ hands and arms. HAVS comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health – namely – painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

When is it hazardous?

Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to permanent health effects. This is most likely when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular part of a person’s job.

How Employers Get it Wrong?

By example – Dacorum Borough Council has recently been fined for exposing seven grounds maintenance workers to Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS), caused by excessive use of power tools.

Luton Magistrates’ Court heard how Dacorum Borough Council reported seven cases of HAVS between May 2015 and June 2016. The affected employees were all part of its grounds maintenance and street care team, looking after the public spaces in Hertfordshire.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the council had neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health. Furthermore, the Council did not limit the duration or magnitude of exposure to vibration and failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at any early stage.

The Council guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and was fined £100,000, with an order also pay costs of £28,672.62.

How to Manage Hand Arm Vibration Risks

By law, employers have a duty to assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration so that employees are protected from risks to their health.

Where the risks are low, the actions you need to take may be simple and inexpensive, but where the risks are high, you will need to prioritise and implement a range of measures to control exposure to hand-arm vibration.

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations require employers to:

  • Assess the vibration risk to employees;
  • Decide if employees are likely to be exposed above the Daily Exposure Action Value (EAV) and if so,
  • Introduce a programme of controls to eliminate risk, or reduce exposure to as low a level as is reasonably practicable;
  • Provide information and training to employees on health risks and the actions you are taking to control those risks;
  • Carry out health surveillance (regular health checks) where there is a risk to health;
  • Keep records of your risk assessment and any health surveillance undertaken and review these regularly.


If you have concerns about manage HAVS or require any further advice do not hesitate to call our H&S advice line today on 0845 459 1724.

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