Executive Hire News
Executive Hire News
Executive Hire News Executive Hire News
EHN Archives home page
Executive Hire News Executive Hire News
Executive Hire News Executive Hire News Executive Hire News

Market Report: Health & Safety pt2 Hand arm vibration, noise & dust

Consistent data needed

Phil Mist talks to several hirers to discover their experiences following the introduction of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations.

Next month, a year will have passed since EHN published its dedicated HAV Supplement, which assessed the implications of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (CVWR), and had a huge impact on the tool and equipment hire industry. Following its publication, many hire company representatives, contractors and manufacturers attended the HAV Conference held in October at EHN’s headquarters in Wiltshire. And, as other articles in this Market Report show, the debate has been on-going amongst the construction industry, hirers and suppliers, some of which participated in the Health & Safety Executive’s HAV Forum event in November.

Indeed, the subject of HAV has been mentioned in almost every issue of EHN since the publication of the Supplement last May, and there have been many developments within the industry since. More tool manufacturers and suppliers have now submitted items for vibration testing to OPERC at Loughborough University.

It would be foolish to pretend that the gathering of meaningful information regarding vibration from several manufacturers has been, or is, easy. Quite simply, it has been anything but. Many of the hire industry’s suppliers and manufacturers claim not to have had access to necessary information; and even when they have had the information, getting some of them to publish it has proved difficult.

In one of the articles in EHN’s HAV Supplement, tool and equipment hire companies were asked for their views on HAV, the CVWR and the actions they were thinking of taking. Twelve months later, the same questions have been posed to report on progress.

HSS Hire Service Group says it is participating in the HSE working group set up to look into HAV. It is hoping that swift progress can be made in establishing standard testing routines for most items of equipment and tools, in order that there is a level playing field. An HSS (www.hss.com) spokesperson confirmed that the working group has not given up on the ‘traffic light’ system, but wants to see better, more concise and repeatable test results used to calculate permissible user times.

Some people in the industry regard the traffic light system as a simple means of assessing quickly the relative vibration levels of individual tools, rather than being a specific aid towards risk assessment. One of the main challenges would seem to be whether the system can be developed further, including the incorporation of tri-axial, rather than dominant axis, vibration readings.

Travis Perkins (www.travisperkins.co.uk) also has a representative on the working group and reports that it is optimistic about positive results being eventually achieved. The company says that, as yet, it is not being asked for vibration information specifically by many of its customers, but points out that, whenever such questions are asked, it obviously needs to be in a position to give clear and concise advice on the issue.

HAV is one of the issues addressed by A-Plant’s (www.aplant.com) new campaign, entitled ‘Making Your Safety Our Priority’. Richard Winfield, the company’s Performance Standards Director, states, “We have introduced the campaign following extensive research in order to help our customers comply with relevant legislation and to ensure health and safety at site level.”

Central to the campaign is a site safety pack, which includes a leaflet on HAV and its related symptoms, which lists typical average vibration levels for common types of equipment used for breaking, drilling, sawing, cutting, grinding and compaction, together with suggested maximum usage times. The subject is also included in an accompanying handbook, which covers other Health & Safety topics such as dust control, fire safety, manual handling, noise and work at height, amongst others.

In March last year, Hire Station (www.hirestation.co.uk) published a poster quoting HAV emissions on a whole range of tools and equipment, and it reports that it has since worked hard to obtain better information from its tool and equipment suppliers. Another hirer that is tackling the issue is GAP (www.gap-group.co.uk). As we reported in our last issue, the company can supply customers with a pocket-sized calculator disc that suggests maximum permissible usage times for different items of equipment, based on the quoted vibration level of a tool, so that operators can stay within daily action values.

Speedy Hire (www.speedyhire.co.uk), and who will forget its CEO, Steve Corcoran’s, presentation to the assembled gathering at the EHN HAV Conference?, had already published HAV figures in its corporate catalogue by the time of the October event, and is now supporting the testing work being carried out by OPERC. Speedy has also just launched its own comprehensive training and educational campaign concerning HAV, which is appraised in depth in another article within this Market Report.

Discrepancies in the traffic light system

Stewart McNaughton of Glasgow-based Martin Plant Hire, who highlighted discrepancies in the traffic light system during his presentation at the EHN Conference, is also committed to obtaining clear, straightforward information from manufacturers that can be quoted by hirers. He states that this is necessary in order to enable Martin Plant (and other hirers) to educate its customers who use the tools. As Health and Safety Adviser for Martin Plant (www.martinplanthire.co.uk), he would like to see made available repeatable, comparable figures for a whole range of vibratory tools and equipment, but he is concerned that it is taking a long time for this to happen. He is pleased that the first ‘real life’ test results from OPERC have now been published on the Internet, but contends that much more needs to be done, and as soon as possible.

Independent hire company Gem Tool Hire & Sales, which has three depots situated in Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, reports that it is still not being asked by many customers for information or advice on HAV. Yet the company deals with not only small construction companies, but also a number of national construction groups. Director Richard Collier confirms that, should Gem staff be asked to provide such guidance, they are more than willing to do so.

The company has instigated an in-house system in order to trace all servicing or repairs that are carried out on its own fleet of tools and equipment. By providing this historical information, Gem hopes to reassure customers that its fleet of tools and machinery are regularly and properly serviced and repaired. This is intended to show that the equipment has been maintained according to the manufacturers’ recommended procedures and standards. This also implies that, although a machine on hire may not be brand new, it will have been cared for in a way that should ensure that the level of vibration emissions has been at least maintained to a standard that reflects that of the tool in its original condition. This, the company says, should mitigate the worst effects of HAV and help employers meet their responsibilities under the CVWR.

As EHN has stated before, although it is employers, rather than hirers, who are most affected by the new Regulations, hirers occupy a key role in the supply chain. The opinions from the companies given above show that they are aware of their responsibilities in providing the end user with advice and information on HAV, but that they still need accurate and consistent data. Hopefully, the collective efforts of the various industry groups will bring this about sooner rather than later.

Executive Hire NewsArchivesApril 2006Market Report › Consistent data needed

Executive Hire News
Executive Hire News
Executive Hire News
website designed & produced by Weblinks Advertising LimitedExecutive Hire News
Executive Hire News