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The firm failed to control the risk of vibration.

Two partners in a construction firm failed to control the risk of exposure to vibration when using vibrating tools. Later, the court fined them for their actions.

Roywood Contractors employees have been working on various construction sites using vibratory tools without proper supervision. As a result, an employee who worked for the company for 12 years developed hand vibration syndrome (HAVS).

An investigation by the Health and Safety Administration (HSE) found that by January 15, 2020, the company failed to assess the risk to employees from exposure to vibration. They did not have adequate measures to control exposure and to monitor their condition.

Roywood Contractors pleaded guilty to violating Rules 6 (1) and 7 (1) of the 2005 Vibration Control Regulations. They were each fined £1,150 and ordered to pay expenses of £3,500 each in Basingstoke Magistrates' Court on September 20.

This was a case in which the company did not fully understand the importance of health monitoring for hand shaking syndrome. If they understood why health surveillance was necessary, they would monitor the health of workers.

A legal representative for Roywood Contractors gave his comments. In delivering his judgment, the District Judge noted that the defendants conducted a well-organized and considerate business. He acknowledged they had hired a consultant to help them with the health and safety of their employees. The advice the consultant gave them was not enough to enable them to fully manage vibration at work risks.

He acknowledged the defendants had taken several risk precautions, that they had taken certain health surveillance measures, and that they had made work adjustments to help the staff member after being diagnosed. He noted that both defendants previously had good health and safety records.

The state of health caused by vibration progresses slowly. At first, it usually starts with pain. As vibration exposure continues, pain can develop into injury or disease. Pain is the first health condition that is noticed. You should immediately address it in order to stop the injury. Vibration can cause changes in tendons, muscles, bones, and joints, as well as affect the nervous system.

Whole-body vibration can cause fatigue, stomach problems, headaches, loss of balance, and "wobbliness" shortly after or during exposure. The symptoms are like those experienced by many people after a long car or boat trip. After daily exposure for several years, whole-body vibration can affect the whole body and lead to several health problems. Many studies have found that workers exposed to whole-body vibration have lower productivity.

As with any occupational exposure, individual sensitivity to vibration varies from person to person. There are three factors connected to vibration that can influence health. First, threshold value, or the amount of exposure to vibration. Second, the dose-response relationship It means how the severity of health effects relates to the amount of exposure. Last, a latency period It refers to the time from first contact to the onset of symptoms.

We have observed that the number of people affected increases as the intensity and duration of exposure to vibration increases. This type of exposure-response relationship shows a relationship between health effects and the total amount of vibrational energy entering the hands or body. Symptoms may appear months or years after exposure begins.

In terms of worker health or safety, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are jurisdictions in Canada that specifically mention the effects of vibration in their occupational health and safety regulations. Most jurisdictions do not regulate a specific exposure limit. They do, however, state that workplaces must control vibration if it poses a health risk.

If you cannot avoid work with vibration, then you have a legal duty to assess the risks and how to address them. You can use our HAV risk assessment form to record your assessment of the risk from vibrating tools and equipment.

Detecting the possibility of injury from vibration in the workplace is relatively simple. It is possible to assess the level of risk even if the actual levels of exposure are difficult to quantify accurately. Like many workplace hazards, risk depends on exposure time and the magnitude of vibration. The presence of vibration sources (hand, pneumatic, or electric tools) is quickly determined by checking the equipment used on the site. A simple study of the tools provides a reasonable estimate of exposure time.

Determining whether a vibration level or amplitude poses a noteworthy risk is more difficult. The recent development of European Union (EU) manufacturers has resulted in tool suppliers disclosing the vibration level. Now, safety professionals can easily find out if the tools pose a meaningful risk. You can do it by reading the operator's manual for the respective tool or vehicle.

Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of injury include working in cold and wet conditions; poor tool care; and even tobacco use. Tobacco nicotine is a known vasoconstrictor, which further reduces circulation to the extremities, exacerbating the problem and increasing the risk of irreversible harm. Check if a worker is suffering from tingling sensations after using equipment. It can be an indicator of risk.

If employees report whitening of their fingers followed by "hot flashes" or pain and numbness, the risk may be too great. It may already have led to some onset of injury, although you should note that these symptoms may not relate to their job. The HSE recommends undergoing a medical examination. The employer should refer the worker to a healthcare professional for a diagnosis.


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