Manchester-based construction firm Ennis Construction is raising awareness of the painful and widespread disease, Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), by focusing on new equipment that reduces or eliminates the condition.
This act of greater plant safety awareness is an ongoing maxim that is being implemented by the company, ensuring that their own equipment and equipment available for plant hire is designed to reduce the likelihood of HAVS.
HAVS is a debilitating occupational health hazard associated with the use of vibrating tools, or working with constantly shaking machinery I.E. tractors and excavators. The Health and Safety Executive reports that HAVS, while preventable, is permanent once the damage is done, and nearly 2 million people are at risk. Patient.co.uk posted figures that state up to 1 in 10 people who work with vibrating machinery are at risk.
Ennis’ urge to highlight the risk of HAVS has been born out of recently launching their own plant hire service, and they are keen for hirers and peers alike to be fully aware of the dangers. Speaking about the condition and what can be done to prevent it, Bart O’Sullivan, Ennis’ Contracts Director, spoke to Property Aspects.
He stated: “Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is one of the most commonly prescribed afflictions in the industrial workplace. Therefore it’s shocking that it remains an issue that isn’t being tackled by employers head-on. We have a responsibility to our employees to not put them at risk, or to any hirers who use our plant hire service.”
He continued: “There are a series of factors to consider to help reduce the risk of [HAVS]. Firstly, look for alternatives to using vibrating tools or, if you can, mechanise or automate the work. If that isn’t possible, then it’s all about prevention. It’s about striking a balance between choosing the piece of equipment that is right for the job, so the employee can spend less time exposed to vibration, and finding a tool that doesn’t overly vibrate too much to begin with.”
Bart then concluded: “Sometimes it’s just about testing the waters. Look around suppliers to pick out a selection of tools that you think may be suitable and low vibration. Then get opinions, get your staff to try them out of you can. Finally I would say ensure your staff are trained on issues relating to [HAVS] so they can make informed decisions of their own.”
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