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Hand-Arm Vibration Tier 1 – Tier 4

HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. HAVS is serious and disabling, and nearly 2 million people are at risk.

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Hand-Arm Vibration Tier 1 – Tier 4


The Control of Hand Arm Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 (the Vibration Regulations), came into force on 6 July 2005 and aim to protect workers from risks to health from vibration.


What is Hand Arm Vibration

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is the medical term for symptoms caused by vibration damages that may occur in the fingers, hands and arms when working with vibrating tools or machinery. Vibration injuries are divided into three subgroups: neurological disorders, vascular and musculoskeletal.


HAV can lead to adverse Health Effects

Multiple studies have shown that regular and frequent exposure to HAV can lead to permanent adverse health effects, which are most likely to occur when contact with a vibrating tool or work process is a regular and significant part of a person’s job.

Hand-arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific diseases such as white finger or Raynaud’s syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. Vibration syndrome has adverse circulatory and neural effects in the fingers. The signs and symptoms include numbness, pain, and blanching (turning pale and ashen). Also known as vibration white finger, it has been estimated by the HSE that there are 288,000 sufferers in the UK.

It has 3 main symptoms:

  1. Sensory symptoms such as tingling and numbness in the fingers
  2. Poor circulation in the fingers
  3. Nerve (carpal tunnel syndrome), bone and joint damage.

In its early stages symptoms are minor, and soon wear off after the vibration stops.  Control at these early stages prevents the onset of more severe symptoms which can cause disability, loss of employment.


Tools that can cause white finger

There are many different types of hand-held power tools and equipment which can place workers at increased risk of developing HAVS. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Chainsaws
  • Impulse Tools
  • Ratchet Screwdrivers
  • Concrete Breakers
  • Cut-off Saws
  • Hammer Drills
  • Hand-held Grinders
  • Impact Wrenches
  • Jigsaws
  • Pedestal Grinders
  • Polishers
  • Power Hammers
  • Power Chisels
  • Powered Lawn Mowers
  • Powered Sanders
  • Brush/Weed Cutters


HAVs Assessment

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations introduces a detailed “Tier system” for HAVS assessments.

• Tier 1: An initial assessment before the employee starts work with vibrating tools.
• Tier 2: An annual assessment.

Anybody disclosing symptoms during Tier 1 or 2 reviews should then be subject to further more detailed assessment.

• Tier 3: A ‘qualified health professional’ administers a comprehensive and detailed questionnaire and carries out a range of clinical tests.  Those with the appropriate symptoms and history progress to the next tier.
• Tier 4:  This stage is when a formal diagnosis is made.  It must be conducted by a suitably qualified Doctor.  Any such formal diagnosis must be reported by the employer under RIDDOR 1995.

Healthscreen can advise you at each step in the process and can help you develop a suitable HAVS screening programme.

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