Hand Arm Vibration (HAV)

Hand-arm vibration is mechanical vibration which is transmitted into the hands and arms during a work activity. Excessive exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). The injuries that can occur include damage to the blood circulatory system (vibration white finger), sensory nerve damage and damage to muscles, bones and joints.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome has become one of the most commonly reported disease under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations) in recent years. Workers using hand-held power tools or hand-guided tools over prolonged periods are most at risk of contracting HAVS.

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 came into force in July 2005. The regulations apply to the exposure of workers to both hand-arm vibration and whole-body vibration.

The Regulations require the employer to assess the risk to health created by vibration at the workplace, to eliminate the exposure or where this is not reasonably practicable to reduce it to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

In some circumstances the employer is also obliged to provide health surveillance to prevent or diagnose any health effect linked with exposure to vibration. In addition the employer is also required to provide information, instruction and training on the risks of vibration at work to their employees where there is an established risk to their health.