Nowadays there is increased awareness of HAVS in industry, but despite this, some businesses still have lack of a meaningful strategy in place to deal with this potential health problem. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (2005) places legal duties on employers to protect staff at risk from HAVS.
HAVS is a debilitating and compensable injury caused by frequent exposure to vibration emissions through the use of power tools, for example, angle grinders, impact wrenches, air chisels, strimmers and hedge cutters. If left unchecked, excessive use of such equipment will eventually lead to irreversible damage of the blood vessels and tissue in the hand and arms.
If your business is one that hasn’t given HAVS much thought, or if it has but without a robust plan to deal with it, then take a few minutes to consider the impact of the lack of action should any HAVS related problems arise. The impact is not only a financial one, but it has other effects too.
The many points to consider are listed below.
- Sickness payments
- Payment of compensation to the injured party
- Costs of medical treatment
- Early retirement and pension costs
- Fines/penalties imposed by enforcement agencies
- Costs to cover for redeployment of internal staff or use of agency supplied staff
- Overtime costs
- Legal costs
- Lost contracts or penalty clauses on delayed contracts
- Investigative and monitoring costs
- Increased liability insurance premiums
These might be difficult to quantify fiscally but would certainly be felt by the business.
- Decreased productivity due to staff being absent for prolonged periods
- Temporary or new staff (if inexperienced) requiring training or management
- Poor morale of workforce
- High turnover of staff
- Bad publicity in press
- Failure to attract new employees, or retain good ones
- Other businesses unwilling to outsource work/processes to yours as a result of your poor safety record
Also, do not underestimate the management and administration costs involved in many of the above items listed. But above all what about the HUMAN cost!
What can you do about it?
If you have had a risk assessment carried out (by someone competent), it should have recommended controls to implement for offering protection against HAVS. You should ensure that the recommendations are implemented.
A free guide to conducting a hand arm vibration (HAV) risk assessment is available for download. It explains, amongst other things, when you should carry one out, and what constitutes a competent risk assessment. Click here to receive it.