The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 were created to protect staff and contractors against risks to their health while working with equipment which may expose them to vibration.
1.1 NHS Fife recognizes its duty to comply with the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.
1.2 The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to vibration at work. The duties in the Regulations are in addition to the general duties set out in the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and other legislation made under the Act.
1.3 The vibration referred to here can be whole body or hand/arm vibration.
1.3.1 Most people who drive road-going vehicles at work are not likely to experience high levels of whole-body vibration. It is, therefore, unlikely in NHS Fife that any action will be required with regard to this hazard.
1.3.2 This procedure outlines the steps to be taken by NHS Fife to ensure that the risk of suffering ill health from using hand held power tools, or hand guided machines is eliminated or minimized.
1.4 This procedure outlines the steps to be taken by NHS Fife to ensure staff or others are not exposed to levels of vibration that may damage health.
1.5 This procedure supports the Risk Assessment and Risk Register and Health Surveillance Policies and reference must be made to those policy documents to identify general responsibilities for risk assessment and health surveillance
This procedure is applicable to all staff and contractors working within NHS Fife, who may be exposed to vibration.
Persons responsible for developing local vibration related guidance or procedures, such as the Estates or Facilities Departments, must ensure that it complies with this Procedure
3.1 Senior and Line Managers are responsible for:-
- ensuring that every effort is made to ensure that any equipment procured is suitable for use;
- ensuring that, where identified, a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health has been carried out;
- ensuring employees and their representatives are consulted when assessing the risks connected with vibration;
- providing suitable work equipment or other measures to prevent ill health where work with vibrating equipment cannot be avoided;
- ensuring all equipment used is properly inspected and maintained;
- ensuring that all staff involved in working with vibrating equipment are aware of this procedure, understand its content and comply with local procedures, guidance and safe systems of work;
- ensuring all staff who work with vibrating equipment are fit to do so;
- ensuring that all staff who work with vibrating equipment have appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision;
- ensuring all contractors are appropriately managed when on site;
- ensuring that appropriate statutory Health Records for employees are kept by the employer as recommended in The Control of Vibration at Work regulations 2005;
- agreeing Health Surveillance arrangements with employee representatives;
- reporting vibration related conditions to the HSE under RIDDOR when advised to do so by a doctor.
3.2 Line Managers and Supervisors are responsible for:-
- identifying all equipment or processes where there is likely to be a significant risk from vibration;
- identifying employees who may be at risk from exposure to hand-arm vibration;
- informing occupational health, following appropriate risk assessments, of employees requiring health surveillance for HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome);
- informing occupational health of any recruits or existing employees who are to begin exposure to HAV (Hand Arm Vibration) so that an appropriate medical assessment of their fitness to work with HAV can be carried out. This assessment should take place before exposure begins;
- ensuring that health surveillance questionnaires are completed by employees at the recommended intervals and allocating a trained “responsible person” to screen these once agreed by unions/employee representatives. Referring to occupational health as appropriate;
- assessing all associated risks involved in working with vibrating equipment;
- developing safe systems of work;
- acting upon any report of an activity or defect likely to cause ill health or endanger safety;
- managing contractors while they are on site;
- investigating all reports of ill health.
3.3 Employees are responsible for:-
- assisting with the assessment of risks, including the identification of equipment which has high vibration or any other problems during use, such as difficulty in holding, weight, or any awkward posture which needs to be adopted;
- complying with safe systems of work developed through risk assessment;
- using any safety equipment supplied;
- following training and instruction;
- informing their managers if they suspect that the system of work in place is ineffective or inadequate;
- reporting any activity or defect likely to cause ill health or endanger safety;
- reporting any ill health effects;
- reporting all incidents (including near misses).and any defects in equipment using the NHS Fife Datix incident reporting system;
- undergoing health surveillance if the neeed is identified from risk assessment.
4. OPERATIONAL SYSTEM
Risk control will be implemented by giving careful consideration to the selection and use of new equipment and by ensuring that any use of new or existing equipment does not exceed the daily exposure limit (ELV) value of 5 m/s² A(8).
In addition, where an individual’s daily exposure exceeds the exposure action value (EAV) of 2.5 m/s² A(8) steps will be taken to minimise exposure.
In consultation with staff, all equipment and processes will be identified in each area of responsibility, to establish whether there is a significant risk from vibration.
All individuals using such equipment will be identified, detailing the work they undertake and the length of time it is in use.
4.1 Assessing the risk and developing an action plan for control
All foreseeable hazards and risks must be considered in advance, in order to determine whether an assessment is necessary, the following questions need to be considered:-
- do we use impact or percussive (e.g. hammer action) tools for more than about 15 minutes per day?
- do we use rotary action machines (e.g. grinders or sanders) for more than about an hour a day?
- Are there vibration warnings from tool/equipment manufacturers or suppliers for the tools being used?
- Have any employees been affected by vibration?
If any of these can be answered positively then an assessment is necessary.
Risk assessment will be conducted by:-
- Identification of individuals at risk;
- Observation of specific work practices;
- Referring to relevant information on the probable level of vibration likely to be encountered when the equipment is used in particular working conditions (generally available from manufacturers’ user manuals;
- Where necessary, by measuring the level of vibration individuals are liable to be exposed to.
Consideration shall also be given to:-
- the duration of exposure, including any exposure to intermittent vibration or repeated shocks;
- the effect of vibration on the workplace or work equipment, including the proper handling of controls, the reading of indicators, the stability of structures and the security of joints;
- any information provided by the manufacturers of work equipment;
- the availability of replacement equipment designed to reduce exposure to vibration;
- specific working conditions such as low temperatures;
- appropriate information obtained from health surveillance including, where possible, published information.
Using the probable level of vibration for the equipment and the duration of exposure, a calculation can be made (by using the online exposure calculator at http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/hav.xls). This will assist in determining the daily exposure limit value associated with the equipment and ensure use of the equipment will be kept below this value.
The risk assessment must be recorded on an NHS Fife general risk assessment form, which must be signed by the assessor and by the manager or head of department. Managers must keep a copy of the assessment in their department.
In gathering information for an assessment, managers may need expert advice.
The risk assessment will be reviewed regularly (at least annually) and in any case where there is a significant change in the work practice or any other reason where it is suspected that the assessment is no longer valid.
Further information on vibration is available from the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/index.htm or from the Health and Safety Advisors.
4.2 Developing an Action Plan to manage the risk
Where a risk of vibration exposure has been identified, an action plan will be developed giving consideration to the elimination or reduction of exposure. The basic methods for reducing vibration exposure and risk, in approximate order of effectiveness, are:
- elimination of the use of hand held vibrating tools or equipment;
- reduction of vibration exposures by modifying existing work;
- replacement of power tools with suitable modern, efficient, ergonomic, vibration reduced types;
- selection of appropriate consumables (e.g. better balanced and fitted grinding wheels) and replace them when required;
- providing employees with information, instruction and training on safe use of tools and equipment and ensuring adequate supervision;
- maintenance of tools and equipment and replacement of consumables, as recommended by the manufacturer;
- using measures to control the forces needed to operate the tools (e.g. with tensioners, balancers, jigs, fixtures);
- reduction of exposure time, e.g. through job rotation.
The approach taken will depend on the availability of reasonably practicable controls, technical advances and the current levels of exposure.
4.3 Health Surveillance
- a tiered approach to health surveillance will be taken in line with the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005;
- NHS Fife Managers should inform the occupational health department of any new job applicants whose post will involve exposure to HAV or any existing employees who are to begin exposure to HAV;
- the employee/recruit will complete a health questionnaire to be submitted to the occupational health nurse. The nurse will either advise that the individual is fit to work with HAV or they will arrange further assessment;
- for those at continued risk an annual self-administered questionnaire will be completed. It is the responsibility of management to arrange this. If agreement is obtained with employee representative then these can be screened for positive responses by a trained “responsible person” in the workplace. The “responsible person” will be trained by an occupational health nurse;
- a positive response to any of the questions in the questionnaire should trigger referral of occupational health for further assessment/examination/ investigation. Advice will be given to the employee and the employer as to whether or not the individual is medically fit to continue exposure to HAV. If all answers are negative then the questionnaire is repeated in one year;
- after 3 years of negative annual questionnaires, management will refer the employee to the occupational health nurse for assessment to ensure that no relevant health issues have been overlooked;
Health records should be kept by the employer for each employee as per the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The guidance with these regulations states the following:
“You should keep a health record for each individual for as long as they are under health surveillance, although you may wish to retain it for longer. It is good practice to offer individual employees a copy of their health records when they leave your employment, if your business should cease trading or the employee Hand-arm vibration ceases to be exposed to vibration.”
5. RISK MANAGEMENT
This procedure is a part of NHS Fife’s system for managing risk as described in the NHS Fife Risk Assessment and Risk Register Policy.
6. RELATED DOCUMENTS
GP/R7 NHS Fife Risk Register and Risk Assessment Policy
GP/I9 NHS Fife Adverse Events Policy
GP/H5 Health Assessment and Surveillance
Hand Arm Vibration: Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. Guidance on Regulations. L140
Whole-Body Vibration. Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. L141
Vibration Solutions. HSG170
Advice for employers on the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. (HSE web site at http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/advicetoemployers/)
Hand Arm Vibration. Advice for employees. INDG 296 (rev1)
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Approved code of practice and guidance. L21
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Approved Code of Practice and Guidance. L22
Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, Guidance on regulations. L25
Further information on vibration can be found at the Health and Safety Executive website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/index.htm