What are Hand Arm Vibration Assessments?

A vibration assessment aims to assess if an individual has any health condition that could make them more susceptible to harm from vibration, or if they are experiencing any symptoms that could be caused or aggravated by vibration.

Why do I need a hand arm vibration assessment?

Employees whose hands are regularly exposed to vibration (such as through hand-held power tools or hand-fed machinery) may suffer from damage to the tissues of the hands and arms, which causes symptoms collectively known as HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - a disorder of the hand and arm which may involve tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in parts of the hand - can also be caused by exposure to vibration. By early detection, these conditions can be treated before they deteriorate. Industries most affected are grounds maintenance workers, wood workers and forestry, building and construction workers and heavy engineering.

Where there is vibration at work, there is a legal duty under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 to perform a vibration risk assessment and perform health surveillance for employees exposed to vibration above a certain level. As part of a health surveillance programme, vibration assessments can help reduce risks, prevent disease and help identify if your control measures are working properly.

If your employees work with vibration, we recommend that health surveillance is carried out on all employees as they start working for your company. This will allow us to identify any existing problems, identify any individuals who are particularly at risk, and provide advice to reduce that risk. We can advise on the most appropriate frequency of ongoing surveillance depending on the risks of the work performed by your employees.

What happens at a vibration assessment?

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire, which asks about relevant symptoms. The questionnaire is usually completed annually. If you have a condition that could be made worse by your work with vibration, or experience any symptoms that could be caused by vibration, you will be referred for more in-depth testing. This involves a more thorough discussion, including some basic physical tests (such as blood pressure) and some functional testing (such as testing your ability to feel sensations on your skin or ability to pick up small objects). You will be provided with information on the risks, preventative measures and types of symptoms that may indicate a problem in the future.

Our team can help you implement a hand arm vibration surveillance programme to keep your employees safe and meet your legal obligations.


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