3 Causes of HAVS & How to Avoid Them
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a common injury within the construction sector. In fact, the number of hand-arm vibration breaches on construction sites is said to have risen by a third between 2017 and 2018 - putting it at the forefront of contractor’s minds.
To help tackle this issue, we sat down with HSS Hire to highlight the 3 main causes of HAVS and how to avoid them.
1) Using handheld power tools or other vibrating equipment for prolonged periods of time
The HSE advises that employers should carry out a period of monitoring to understand how long a worker uses specific tools on a typical day or week.
Once you have gathered the data, you can assess what the exposure level is likely to be for that task, and whether it is likely to exceed either the Exposure Action (EAV) or Exposure Limit Value (ELV).
If it is, you can minimise vibration exposure by ensuring you always use the right tool for the job, reduce the amount of time you use a tool in one go by doing other jobs in between, and avoid gripping or forcing a tool more than is necessary.
2) Holding or working with machinery that vibrates
Using machinery that vibrates is often unavoidable in construction, especially tools such as concrete breakers, sanders, grinders and hammer drills. However, it’s important to put some measures in place to prevent extensive hand-arm vibration exposure.
For example, all workers should check their tools before using them to ensure they've been properly maintained and repaired, to avoid increased vibration caused by faults or general wear and tear.
Another option is to use tools with Active Vibration Reduction Technology (AVR) such as our TE 3000-AVR breaker. Hilti’s AVR Technology comprises of a series of springs and pivots that effectively decouples the side handles from the operational end of the tool. The vibration in the direction of the hammer is reduced by a damping mechanism, whilst counter balancing further reduces the vibrating effects.
The result is a machine which not only feels much lighter than its power suggests, but has a tri-axial vibration value that enables Hilti to claim a best-in-class trigger time that boosts operator productivity.
3) Ignoring the problem
By failing to put preventative measures in place, you can only bury your head in the sand for so long before problems begin to arise. That’s why it’s vital to follow good health practices on-site, alongside reducing excessive tool and machinery usage.
One example of this is to encourage blood circulation by keeping workers warm and dry i.e. wearing gloves, a hat, waterproofs and using heating pads if available. You could also try giving up or cutting down on smoking (smoking reduces blood flow), or try massaging and exercising your fingers during work breaks.
By making your staff more aware of the causes and risks of HAVS, you can work together to minimise the impact and increase safety on-site.
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