Vibratory tools are common within the commercial vehicle workshop and pose HAV (Hand Arm Vibration) risks. Whether its bench grinders, portable drills or orbital sanders, its likely technicians are using these tools on a daily basis, for long periods of time, but is machinery being regularly reviewed in relation to the correct health and safety regulations?
As pioneers in health and safety, environmental and quality management within the commercial vehicle market, Inspire International UK offer expert advice for commercial vehicle workshops to help businesses remain fully compliant and avoid fines.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently reported that up to 2 million people are at risk of HAV syndrome (HAVS), caused by prolonged exposure to vibration tools. Alongside this, the HSE has published a new HAV Inspection and Enforcement Guidance document. Aimed at inspectors, the guidance provides a consistent framework for assessing compliance and making enforcement decisions.
Here, Inspire International shares its top tips on how to complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and control risks posed by HAVS within the commercial vehicle workshop:
Top Tips on assessing your HAV tools:
- Prioritise Risk Assessments, not just Tool Assessments – a risk assessment is required as a legal document by the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
- Review your HAV tools at least once a year – by nature basic tools can get damaged easily and larger tools can deteriorate quickly. Regularly monitoring tools will avoid HAVS and additional cost implications of replacing worn out tools
- Review your tools at different times throughout the year – the weather can impact the efficiency of your tools so alternate the seasons in which you test them
- Educate technicians on the regulations (alongside Managers) – technicians have a responsibility to ensure tools are fit for purpose and used correctly
- Introduce a Purchasing Policy – make your employees and customers aware that your business only buys high quality tools and expect freelance technicians to use tools of the same standard
- Limit the number of tools on site to limit the risk factor – decide on a sensible number of tools for each technician to have in their toolbox. Test those tools and discard the ones that don’t meet the requirements
- Exposure limits – ensure your team is educated on the guidelines around exposure limits e.g. if a tool exceeds five metres per second for an eight-hour period, it falls into the red zone
Managing Director of Inspire International Jagjeet Virdee comments: “Using vibratory tools within your workshop introduces a number of risks specific to HAV which can be very significant if not managed – not only for employees but more importantly for the business itself.
“HAVS can be controlled by reducing vibration exposure of vibration transmitted to the hand and/or the time spent holding vibrating equipment. Regularly monitoring your employee’s usage of tools and the tools themselves will enable your workshop to continue running efficiently and avoid any unwanted fines.
“Managers must have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for all HAV tools – they need to be thorough and cover every tool you have in the workshop. The results should be properly documented and not only logged as data but actioned to ensure all vibratory tools machinery is safe to use.”
There are five sections within the Regulations which must be followed accordingly: assessing/measuring tools and collecting data, observational studies, health surveillance, staff instruction and training and carrying out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment that encompasses all of the above. All of these components must be carried out to provide a holistic review of the HAV tools within your workshop.