HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 28TH APRIL 2016

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Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome – Two firms fined for safety breaches

Two Derbyshire-based construction firms were fined a total of almost £300,000 for safety breaches as a result of separate investigations into reported cases of carpel tunnel syndrome and hand arm vibration syndrome to employees.

Derby Crown Court heard how employees at the construction firms were regularly exposed to hand arm vibration through the use of a range of vibratory tools in the assembly and servicing of crushers and screeners.

Investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the activities of both companies found that they failed to adequately manage the risk to employees from exposure to vibration including failing to carry out suitable and sufficient assessments for the risk from vibration, and had not made reasonable estimates of employee’s exposure.

HSE inspector Edward Walker said after the hearing: “There is a well-known health risk associated with exposure to hand arm vibration and it is important that measures are put in place to manage the risk. Exposure to hand arm vibration can cause debilitating affects which could have been avoided.”

What is hand-arm vibration?

Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted into workers’ hands and arms. This can come from use of hand-held power tools (such as grinders or road breakers), hand-guided equipment (such as powered lawnmowers or pedestrian controlled floor saws) or by holding materials being worked by hand-fed machines (such as pedestal grinders or forge hammers).

Why is hand-arm vibration an issue?

Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to two forms of permanent ill health known as:

  • hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS); and
  • carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).

Symptoms and effects of HAVS include:

  • tingling and numbness in the fingers which can result in an inability to do fine work (for example, assembling small components) or everyday tasks (for example, fastening buttons);
  • loss of strength in the hands which might affect the ability to do work safely;
  • the fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery, reducing ability to work in cold or damp conditions, eg outdoors.

Symptoms and effects of CTS can also occur and include:

  • tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand which can interfere with work and everyday tasks and might affect the ability to do work safely.

Symptoms of both may come and go, but with continued exposure to vibration they may become prolonged or permanent and cause pain, distress and sleep disturbance. This can happen after only a few months of exposure, but in most cases it will happen over a few years.

What the law says

The Vibration Regulations require you to:

  • make sure that risks from vibration are controlled;
  • provide information, instruction and training to employees on the risk and the actions being taken to control risk; and
  • provide suitable health surveillance.

The Vibration Regulations include an exposure action value (EAV) and an exposure limit value (ELV) based on a combination of the vibration at the grip point(s) on the equipment or work-piece and the time spent gripping it. The exposure action and limit values are:

  • a daily EAV of 2.5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a clear risk requiring management; and
  • a daily ELV of 5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a high risk above which employees should not be exposed.

Preventing disability

Your duties are to reduce the risks from vibration to the lowest level reasonably practicable and to reduce exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable if it is above the EAV. You must not allow exposures to exceed the ELV.

If you comply with the Vibration Regulations you will prevent disability from HAVS and vibration-related CTS. Some people will develop early signs and symptoms of HAVS or CTS even at low exposures (for example, if they are susceptible to vibration injury and are regularly exposed to vibration at around the exposure action value, usually for some years). Your health surveillance should identify any harm early on, so appropriate action by you at this point will prevent disability.

Make sure you consult your trade union safety representative or employee representative on your proposals to:

  • control risk; and
  • provide health surveillance.

Certain cases of HAVS and all cases of vibration-related CTS must be reported to HSE in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) – see ‘Find out more’

Duties of manufacturers and suppliers

Manufacturers and suppliers have duties under the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations to provide health and safety information in equipment handbooks.

They also have a duty to list the vibration emission in literature describing equipment performance. This should be, but is not always, suitable for estimating vibration exposure – check, for example, with the manufacturer or your supplier.

When you buy work equipment you should expect your supplier to provide the following:

  • warning of any vibration-related risks from using the equipment;
  • information on safe use and, where necessary, training requirements;
  • information on how to maintain the equipment;
  • information on the vibration emission of the equipment

For more information, including how to find out if HAVS is likely to be a problem in your workplace and how to control the risks, HSE’s brief guide “Hand-arm vibration at work” can be downloaded free by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg175.pdf, or contact us at Fiona@eljay.co.uk or on 07896 016380 and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

WORKING TOGETHER TO BEAT OCCUPATIONAL CANCER – IOSH’S ‘NO TIME TO LOSE’ CAMPAIGN

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We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

The subject of our news update this week is occupational cancer and more specifically, the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) ‘No Time to Lose’ campaign which aims to get carcinogenic exposure issues more widely understood and help businesses take action. You can visit the campaign website at www.notimetolose.org.uk.

ABOUT WORK CANCER

Cancer caused by what people do at work is nothing new. One of the first official cases of an occupational cancer was identified in the eighteenth century.

Asbestos is the best known carcinogen – and the biggest killer. Today, asbestos claims well over 100,000 lives a year worldwide. It’s estimated that 10 million people across the world will have died as a result of asbestos exposure before it’s been fully controlled. But there are many other carcinogenic exposures that cause cancer and claim lives – well over 50 substances are listed as known or probable causes of workplace cancer. Across the EU, 1 in 5 workers faces an occupational cancer risk. Across the world, the number of people dying from a work-caused cancer far outstrips those dying because of work accidents. It’s estimated that at least 666,000 people die worldwide every year*.

Recent research has built the most comprehensive picture to date for a single country. A research team led by Dr Lesley Rushton of Imperial College, London, linked thousands of cancer deaths with different occupations. It found:

  • almost 14,000 new cases of cancer caused by work are registered each year
  • around 8,000 deaths a year are caused by occupational cancer.

ABOUT IOSH’S CAMPAIGN

IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign aims to get carcinogenic exposure issues more widely understood and help businesses take action. The campaign is working to:

  • raise awareness of a significant health issue facing workers in the UK and internationally
  • suggest some solutions on a UK scale to tackle the problem – a national model that can be transposed internationally
  • offer free practical, original materials to businesses to help them deliver effective prevention programmes.

GOT A QUESTION?

Have a question about work-related cancers or managing carcinogenic exposures? IOSH’s expert panel can help you.

They aim to answer all your questions within seven working days and will share questions and answers on the website. All questions they post online are anonymous.

View answers to questions that have been asked so far

Click on the link http://www.notimetolose.org.uk/Ask-the-experts/Questions-answered.aspx#attributable to view the panel’s answers to questions that have been asked so far.

Or ask a new question

Got a question about work-related cancers or managing carcinogenic exposures?

IOSH’s expert panel aims to answer all your questions within seven working days and will share questions and answers on the website. All questions they post online are anonymous. Click on the link http://www.notimetolose.org.uk/Ask-the-experts/Ask-a-question.aspx to ask a question.

IS YOUR BUSINESS AFFECTED?

With information packs on silica dust, solar radiation and diesel exhaust emissions, IOSH’s resource library helps you take action and raise awareness where you work. New packs are added throughout the year. Click on the link http://www.notimetolose.org.uk/Free-resources.aspx to get access.

GET INVOLVED

Click on the link http://www.notimetolose.org.uk/Get-involved/Supporters-A-to-I.aspx to find out which organisations are already supporting the campaign and to find out how you can show your formal support.

Pledge to take action

Click on the link http://www.notimetolose.org.uk/Get-involved/Pledge-to-take-action.aspx to join the growing number of businesses leading on this issue and sign up to the pledge.

 

*Estimate of 666,000 global work-related cancer deaths annually: ‘Roles of occupational safety and health organisations in global and regional prevention strategies’, Takala et al., International Commission on Occupational Health, 2009.