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  • Jason Grant

Have you completed a HAVS Assessment for the Workplace?

A summary of the duties an Employer has to manage the risk of HAVS in the workplace

What is HAVS? 

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome is the transmission of vibration through the use of hand held power tools operated by the user. Hand operated power tools are used widely in many industries and the continual use may cause, if not controlled, changes of sensation for the user leading to permanent damage nerves in the hands and fingers. Damage can be painful and disabling for those who have been exposed to HAVS. Exposure to HAVS is over a long period before any symptoms may be identified. However, employees who have worked in another workplace may have already been exposed to HAVS before commencing their new role. It is important to ensure that they are not exposed to further HAVs in your workplace.

Is it preventable?

Yes – through a formal risk assessment process, specific to the workplace, controls can be used to reduce exposure to employees and prevent early onset of HAVS, as well as early identification with the use of health surveillance.

What are my responsibilities?

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to vibration at work. Employees have duties under the regulations too. (Health & Safety Executive).

What do I need to do?

Firstly, assess the types of tasks and activities carried out in your workplace where hand operated tools and equipment is used, this can be short term use or long term use.

Keep a brief log of each task, the type of equipment used and an average time period each task is carried out in one day. For example: A person using a hand operated sanding machine in use for 3 hours a day.

Am I controlling the risk?

Many workplaces will already have a health surveillance programme in place for annual screening. This is a control measure to identify the early effects of HAVS, but will not prevent the exposure to HAVS. A formal risk assessment will identify the types of exposure and what controls are required to limit the exposure to employees before attending the annual screening.

Can HAVS be cured?

No – Once nerve damage has occurred there is no cure. The effects of HAVS does not leave the employee when they finish work, it goes home with them.

What other controls should I consider?

There are a number of controls that can be used based upon the risk assessment process, these can be engineering and administrative controls. Below are a couple of examples common for all HAVS risk assessments:

  • Train your employees on the risks of HAVS and how to limit exposure in the workplace. However, it is also common to use but also at home, it is common for most of us to use powered hand tools during renovations, general DIY etc. Whilst the employer is not responsible for what the employees do outside work, they may thank you for providing more awareness on HAVS.

  • Consult with employees through the employee’s consultation process on new equipment, how to change process to limit exposure in the workplace, or perhaps increasing the health surveillance screening.

What next?

Contact the team at KVF info@kvf-consultants for more detailed advice on HAVS and the assistance needed to complete a workplace specific HAVS Assessment.

What if I do nothing?

Employees could face a painful life changing condition limiting the use of their hands and fingers, affecting employment, driving, hobbies and interests, or simply holding the hands of loved ones. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to control the risk to employees and enforcement action could be taken where duty holder fail to comply with the law.

We at KVF believe it’s our responsibility to keep our clients up-to-date with the latest updates.

Look out for our monthly blogs, to let you know which subject we are covering each month and if there is anything specifically you want to see included, let us know at



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