Asbestech HAVS Solution
As part of Asbestech’s ‘continual improvement’ approach to Health and Safety, our Senior Leadership Team has invested in an improved solution for managing and reducing the risk of HAVS affecting our workforce.
What is HAVS?
HAVS stands for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, often also called Vibration White Finger. The condition is caused using vibration generating tools such as recip saws and breakers, whose vibrations can damage the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. The effects of HAVS can be terrible, leading to constant irritation and pain, a loss of feeling in the hands, and in some cases a reduction in the ability to grip and hold. There are hundreds of new cases each year although it is an entirely preventable condition.
Asbestech has always been compliant with the requirements of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, following the guidance in the HSE’s Approved Code of Practice. Specific risk assessments have been included in our working methods, with tool data being taken from manufacturers and our Supervisors recording tool usage by employees, as well as our teams being given regular Toolbox Talks on the subject. Asbestech’s culture however is based on continually developing our solutions so that we are leading the field, going beyond compliance and achieving best practice. A conversation during a site meeting between two of our Directors led to them challenging themselves: Can we do better? They started an investigation and after reading numerous reports, contacting several solutions providers and watching a lot of YouTube videos on the subject they answered an emphatic: Yes.
After conducting a site-based trial, the solution chosen by Asbestech is the Reactec HAVwear system supported by the Reactec cloud-based Analytics Platform. The HAVwear comprises of wrist worn devices which measure actual vibration data in real time and uploads the data to the Analytics Platform. Each tool is individually tagged, with background HAVS data and usage limits programmed in at our offices, and each worker has their own wrist-worn device (about the size of a Smartwatch) that they simply tag onto each tool before they use it.
Our Contracts Director, Jason Gillett, said, “The HAVwear device alerts team members when they are starting to approach their usage limits, giving three levels of alerts as the limit gets nearer. The Analytics Platform automatically generates and emails a visual daily report which breaks the information down by team member and by individual tool.
“The beauty of this solution is that it allows us not only to accurately monitor real vibration data but to compare it against the theoretical data used throughout the rest of our sector. We are now using the data we have gathered to improve our working methods in order to further reduce the risk of HAVS affecting our teams.”
Phil Neville, Operations Director, added, “A further benefit to this system is that it allows us to accurately compare the vibration generating properties of individual tools. This has already resulted in us selecting different models with better vibration performance and now also helps us to decide when to remove tools from our rotation. It’s surprising the difference in performance that two seemingly identical tools can have when you are measuring them accurately.”