HAVS stands for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, and it occurs in employees working with hand-held powered equipment with heavy vibrations. 

According to the latest statistics published by HSE, nearly 2 million people in the UK are at the risk of developing HAVS syndrome. 

Some of the most common symptoms of HAVS are vascular and sensorineural in hands and fingers. The more exposure to the heavy machinery vibration, the more chances of developing severe symptoms of HAVS. 

The good thing is that HAVS can be prevented and controlled by conducting appropriate assessments at regular periods. HAVS Risk Assessment is greatly helpful in order to make it “Better safe than sorry.” 

In this blog, we have discussed all the stages of HAVS development and how a HAVS Risk Assessment can help in preventing these stages further. 

In simple words, HAVS Assessment supports the business in finding out the power tools and processes causing hand vibrations and examines the risk exposure of each employee at the workplace. After thoroughly examining the situation, the HAVS Assessor guides you for needful further steps. 

One should not ignore the primary symptoms of HAVS as prolonged and regular exposure of vibration not only pose a threat to the health of your employees; it also lasts for a lifetime. 

Some of the most common symptoms of HAVS are inclusive of – 

  • The emergence of peculiar white patches on the skin, particularly in cold weather 
  • Slightly uncomfortable tingling pain in the fingers 
  • Numbness in one or more fingers 
  • The gradual loss of sensation in fingers 
  • Muscular damage 
  • Reduced grip and mobility of hands and fingers 

How a HAVS Risk Assessor examines the exposure – 

When a worker is exposed to a source of vibration that is above the exposure action value of 2.5m/s2 or 100 points, he should undergo health surveillance. Even if a worker is operating heavy machinery occasionally, but exceeds the mentioned level, HAVS is recommended for him. Moreover, those who have already been diagnosed with HAVS but working below the exposure action value should undergo health surveillance. 

HAVS Risk Assessment is 5 tier process – 

Tier :1 – 

A basic assessment before a worker is exposed to any heavy vibration. A person needs to fill self-administered health and submit it to the occupational health provider for review. 

Tier: 2 – 

The screening questionnaire is the second tier of HAVS Risk Assessment. The occupational health provider goes through the questionnaire to understand the health status of the person. 

Tier : 3 – 

A more detailed assessment by an occupational health nurse is done who collects the information like symptoms and physical examination of the person. This tier applies to those who have indicated HAVS symptoms on Tier 2 questionnaire. Usually, this is enough to guide a diagnosis, but a HAVS Tier 4 assessment is required by a qualified doctor to make a formal diagnosis. 

Tier: 4 – 

A qualified doctor provides formal diagnosis, advice about RIDDOR reporting and fitness for work. A detailed description is taken by the doctor, followed by the examination of blood pressure examination, sensation and grip strength dexterity.  

Tier: 5 –  

After reviewing and examining the symptoms and physical condition of a person, the doctor finally judges if the symptoms need to be taken into account or not and proceeds further accordingly. 

Regulation related to HAVS in the UK 

Along with the Health and Safety at Work act 1974, the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations Act 2005 implies employers to make sure the healthy condition of their employees. 

To ensure the prevention of HAVS employers should – 

  • Give frequent breaks to employees from operating tools 
  • Providing appropriate safety equipment and anti-vibration gloves
  • Maintenance of reasonable temperature at the workplace
  • Initial as well as regular training of health and safety standards in the workplace 

The bottom line –  

For the last so many years, HAVS has remained a type of injury that has gone unnoticed, causing severe damage to hands and fingers. 

Nonetheless, in recent years we have availed simple medical tests to diagnose the HAVS along with its severity degree. 

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms of HAVS and want reliable support, you can contact Orbis Environmental and safety to assist you.