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https://www.socotec.co.uk/services/occupational-hygiene/ https://www.socotec.co.uk/services/occupational-hygiene/


HAND/ARM VIBRATION


REPRESENTS THE AVERAGE AMOUNT OF VIBRATION GENERATED FROM THE MAIN APPLICATIONS OF THE TOOL.”


VIBRATION EMISSION LEVEL STATED BY THE MANUFACTURER USUALLY


“IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT THE


hygienist, is employed to conduct a vibration monitoring risk assessment, as they will be able to accurately gauge typical conditions and consider any variable factors.


MANUFACTURER’S VIBRATION EMISSIONS DATA When carrying out a HAV risk assessment, employers


should still consider any relevant data provided by the equipment manufacturer, who is required to provide details on the residual risk. This is a statutory requirement and can serve a purpose in providing a ballpark figure of the tool’s vibration emission level. This data is instrumental during the tool purchasing stage, as by applying a ‘buy smooth’ policy, the employer can focus on buying low-vibration tools.


It is worth noting that the vibration emission level stated by the manufacturer usually represents the average amount of vibration generated from the main applications of the tool. Therefore, any usage outside of its usual applications may significantly increase the exposure level over the total working period. The HSE’s standpoint is that it may be reasonable to expect that the manufacturer’s data is representative of the range of exposure which may be experienced on site, and that this data may therefore be applied for the purposes of a preliminary assessment of exposure. This can be carried out instead of on-tool measurements in the event of a specialist not being readily available to attend site.


However, caution should be taken to assess how closely the conditions of on-site tool usage match the conditions of laboratory-based testing. HSE guidance also cautions that vibration test codes tend to underestimate the vibration of tools when used in the workplace (by a factor of 1.5 to two for pneumatic and electric tools).


Which set of data is more effective when assessing and reducing HAVS exposure?


Although on-tool measurements can be argued to provide more accurate readings of vibration exposure


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levels, the subsequent control measures applied would be the same if both these measurements and the manufacturer’s data were to produce the same general range of vibration magnitudes. As long as the employer has sourced the general range of the tool’s expected vibration magnitude in that process, both the manufacturer’s data and on-tool measurements can provide the information needed to sufficiently assess the level of risk and control measures required.


Both data sources have their limitations, and employers should therefore choose the most appropriate method for their situation and focus on understanding the level of risk through a soundly- based risk assessment. And thereafter monitoring the effectiveness of the implemented control measures by ensuring they are regularly reviewed.


It is in my experience, however, that the manufacturer’s data can often underestimate the level of HAV exposure compared to the on-tool measurements obtained for that tool under actual/typical conditions of use. In some cases, the manufacturer’s data has been misunderstood and used as a means to ‘work up to the limit’, unwittingly causing exposure over the limit should the manufacturer’s data be under- representative. Therefore, although the manufacturer’s data serves a purpose (such as at tool purchasing stage or a preliminary risk assessment), an occupational hygienist may often be required to attend site to carry out on-tool measurements. In either case, the principle of ‘ALARP’ should be maintained.





HOW CAN SOCOTEC HELP? SOCOTEC’s Occupational Hygiene team will


support your organisation across a wide range of requirements regarding HAVS exposure, from workplace exposure monitoring to hand-arm and whole-body vibration assessments. If you would like to find out more, click here or get in touch with our Occupational Hygiene team.


www.socotec.co.uk 23


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