Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – Manager support

Every year Network rail employees are diagnosed with new or worsening HAVS. As you know HAVS is a permanent and potentially disabling condition that is entirely preventable. As a line manager, you can assist in ensuring risks from vibration in the workplace are controlled and provide information to employees about risks. This will allow us as an organisation to meet The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (2005). The aim of our HAVS management programme is to eliminate vibration exposure totally however this will take time to achieve as engineers work to mechanise tasks that currently are done manually. In the meantime we need to work to reduce vibration exposure to as low as possible and prevent employees from developing HAVS or symptoms worsening for those who already have it.

As a manager your responsibilities are:

  • to know which of your employees are at risk
  • to provide information to employees
  • to keep records of each employees exposure
  • to ensure control measures are in place
  • to plan tasks to eliminate or reduce exposure
  • to ensure employees take part in health surveillance
  • to investigate when a new or worsening case of HAVS is identified

A risk assessment for vibration should be available for any task involving the use of vibrating tools.

You will need to identify which jobs are more at risk, which will generally include those which involve regular and frequent exposure to tools with high levels of vibration. These are typically grinders, impact drills, sanders, polishers and other such hand-held tools. When assessing these, take into consideration how old the tools are and whether they have been maintained on a regular basis. Information on vibration emissions and risks are available within the Equipment Vibration and Noise Datasheet.   Every employee should have a vibration exposure record detailing the tool they used, for how long, and how much exposure they had for every shift. It is essential that the employee not only knows this information but understands what it means, what exposure limits are and how this will impact their work.

Equipment, noise and vibration datasheet

Network Rail has a duty of care to provide information and guidance regarding the equipment it provides so that its employees health can be considered.

The equipment noise and vibration datasheet (please see attachments) contains vibration information for plant used on Network Rail managed infrastructure that presents a Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) risk.  It has been compiled to facilitate in planning the use of this equipment by providing a single source of information.

This information should be used to estimate vibration exposure when planning tasks and to put in place control measures to reduce an employee’s vibration exposure.  The datasheet can be used in conjunction with the HSE Vibration calculator (please see useful links) to calculate exposures for hand-arm vibration.

For technical enquiries and comments relating to the datasheet please contact Equipmentdatasheet@networkrail.co.uk

Note

Inclusion in this datasheet should not be construed as an endorsement of that product by Network Rail, nor does it give any preferred status.

It is the responsibility of the equipment owner/user to ensure that it has attained any required product or engineering acceptance certification. In addition, the equipment must be suitable for the work to be carried out and be maintained to the manufacturers’ recommendations.

Control measures

Equipment Control Measures

You Must:

  • Ensure that equipment is maintained regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and Network Rail procedures.
  • Ensure that any tags detailing vibration are in place and legible
  • Make sure that any tools purchased or hired have been through Network Rails product approval process which takes into consideration the vibration emissions of the equipment
  • Make sure equipment is ideally be stored in a way so that when it is next used; the handles are not too cold to touch
  • if you have an idea of how to do a job in a way which reduces or eliminate vibration exposure, talk to your local safety team who can, where possible, help you take your idea forward

Employee Control Measures

You must:

  • Ensure employees are using the right tool for the job and that they are not exposed near or above the exposure limits set out in legislation
  • Provide your employees with regular training on how to use the tool in the correct manner, so that vibration exposure is kept to a minimum
  • plan your work schedules and ensure job rotation is implemented and documented so that exposure to vibration is reduced
  • make sure gloves are provided to employees, to keep their hands warm and dry in cold weather conditions, as this will help to maintain circulation to fingers.
  • be able to identify your employees who need health surveillance
  • make sure every employee takes part in the mandatory health surveillance programme annually
  • provide your employees with their vibration exposure record to take to an appointment
  • follow any guidance from occupational health relating to an individuals exposure to vibration
  • take part or lead in an investigation if one of your employees develops new or worsening HAVS symptoms
  • be approachable so that employees feel able to report any concerns they may have.
Employee Support

Should employees develop any signs and symptoms of HAVS, they should be encouraged to report these to you. These employees will then need to be referred to Occupational Health for an assessment. It is important to remember that early intervention is best. If an investigation is required you will need to review the tasks that the employee has completed and whether the risk to the employee could have been reduced. Any advice that is given by occupational health is recommended to be followed.

Visit the Occupational health service page for further information on services available.

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