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

Stuck in the middle

Hirers continue to play an important but difficult role informing end users about HAV. Alan Guthrie spoke to some of them.

One of the articles in EHN’s HAV Supplement, published in May 2005, dealt with the issue as hirers saw it. Entitled ‘Piggy in the middle’ it explained their dilemma of trying to obtain reliable vibration data from manufacturers on the one hand, and of meeting end users’ demands for practical data relating to productivity and performance on the other. In many ways, the situation remains similar.

“Many customers request productivity data and we refer them to OPERC’s HAVTEC database,” states Mark Turnbull, Speedy Group Health, Safety & Environmental Manager. “The manufacturer’s declared figure is obviously important and we quote it in our catalogues. But an indication of productivity can enable a better risk assessment. A tool may have a higher vibration value, but if it gets the job done much more quickly it might be the better choice. Conversely, some machines may have a low vibration figure but might have to be used for much longer to achieve the same work, exposing the operator to a higher overall dosage.” Certainly, the Health & Safety Executive’s advice is to first select the most appropriate method or tool for a particular task, and then to consider vibration levels.

Industry’s increased awareness

Stewart McNaughton, Quality & Safety Manager with Martin Plant Hire, believes “the industry’s HAV knowledge and awareness has increased immensely in the last two years, helped particularly by EHN’s two specialist HAV Conferences and by the seminar at the recent Executive Hire Show. We seem to be closer to reaching a much-needed consensus, but there is still dubiety over the best source of data – whether from manufacturers, independent test houses, or some other database.
The data has to be agreed upon and trusted, and only then can we formally use it in our literature and catalogues.” Martin Plant currently quotes vibration data from the source it deems most appropriate for customers’ particular requirements.

Worcester-based WHC Hire Services has implemented its own solution, testing all hand-held vibrating equipment in-house. “We started doing this four years ago when we won a contract to supply equipment to Severn Trent Water, including compaction plates, rammers, jackhammers and cut-off saws,” states Director James Clutterbuck. “Each tool is tested every three months using specialist equipment, creating individual records that enable us to monitor changes in performance. It also makes it easier to track operators’ exposure, since tools are assigned to specific gangs. Our staff have received appropriate HAV measurement training from the Industrial Noise & Vibration Centre in Slough, and we have built test beds at our premises to undertake real-life testing.”

Martin Williams, Environmental, Health & Safety Manager with Hewden, says that the company’s newly revised HAV guidance booklet will quote data from both manufacturers and from OPERC. “Whatever figure we provide, there are so many variables, such as the type of accessory used, that it can never be definitive. We simply supply the most appropriate information we can. It would be a lot easier if we were able to treat HAV in the same way as noise, and just quote the manufacturers’ figures, but the risks are different.”

Peter Houldridge, Managing Director of Hull-based Complete Hire Services, sees the prospect of new revised standards as a major step forward. “It is all too easy to scare users with regard to HAV management. Some people seem to take it to extremes, virtually going to every site with stopwatches and meters. Small tradesmen cannot cope with laptops and spreadsheets: they need straightforward, practical data that is reliable and based on the activity they are undertaking.” He says that, as standards based on the 75th percentile of use are the accepted European model, it seems sensible to quote figures derived from them, although real-life data for particular applications might still be required.

Chris Steven, Group Safety Officer with Brandon, believes that dealing with HAV figures is akin to squaring a circle, addressing the need to supply data in accordance with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations, and of providing figures sufficient for risk assessment under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations. “We need to be able to refer to a reliable database of information that we can offer customers. At the moment we are supplying manufacturers’ data and we update our guidance materials as new information becomes available.”

“HAV is one of the ten topics addressed by our new ‘Split Second’ Health & Safety Campaign,” states Malcolm Campbell, Health & Safety Manager with GAP. “We aim to supply our customers with the most appropriate data, and our procurement policy is to source low-vibration equipment where possible. We will use the ‘traffic light’ system until a better solution is devised, but for non-standard applications there should be an accepted means of testing and measuring tools on-site for accurate real-life data. We recently had a customer who wanted to drill a particularly unusual type of rock, and information from the HAVTEC database was able to indicate an appropriate solution. But you have to avoid being too technical. As long as we, as hirers, have done our very best to minimise the customers’ risk, that is all we can do.”

Executive Hire NewsArchivesApril 2007Market Report › Stuck in the middle

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