Construction sites are home to many potentially hazardous activities, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 2.2 million days of work are lost to work related-illness and injury every year. Dust and hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) are among the most prevalent. Yet, explains Laura Tapply, Communications Manager at SPIT, both can be avoided through careful management, implementation of appropriate accident prevention measures and careful tool selection.
HAVS is a condition caused by exposure of the hands and arms to vibration when using handheld power tools and machinery. Vibrations can disrupt blood flow, causing tissue and nerve damage, as well as specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Statistics from the HSE suggest that more than half of time lost to work-related issues arise from musculoskeletal, work-related disorders – making the reduction of HAV a top priority for the whole industry.
HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done, the effects are permanent.
As with many ailments, prevention is better than cure. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 set out to eliminate any new incidences of disability from hand-arm vibration and to stop employees developing advanced stages of these diseases.
The regulations offer a number of simple, common-sense measures; many of which focus on the need to ensure that the equipment selected is appropriate for the job.