To HAV and to hold

More and more Principal Contractors are asking for proof that hand arm vibration has been looked at in the site RAMS before they are prepared to pass them. This can be a daunting prospect if you haven’t done it before. So here is a guide to how to do just that.

First make a list of the make and model of the power tools you intend to use. It might be a Makita SDS 18v drill for instance. Go onto the Makita website and find the exact make and model of drill. On the page there will be a tab for Technical Information. Click through to that and find the vibration values for that tool in m/s squared. Next go onto the HSE website and search for vibration calculator. Find the excel spreadsheet formatted table and click edit. Enter the details of the tool, the vibration value and the time you estimate it will be operated for. At each point press enter when you have inserted a value. The table will then calculate whether it is safe to use that tool for that duration and can even deal with multiple tools being used for different jobs during the day. If you are exceeding the maximum values then you will have to put in control measures (some activities such as drilling concrete can easily do that) such as splitting the task between two or more staff etc.

Once you have completed the table and have the results then include it in your RAMS as a specific risk referring to the table and submit the table with the risk assessment. You nay have to keep HAVS logs on site where you record the details of how long each member of staff or sub-contractor uses a particular piece of kit to ensure that the maximum exposure is not exceeded.

Quite simple but it can be made more difficult by not knowing exactly what tools are to be used and not being able to find the appropriate technical data online.

Ultimately your RAMS should look to eliminate the risk where possible and only then, by using low vibration tools, specialist PPE, job rotation etc can you look to control the risk to a reasonable level.

Martin Blythe,


OJ Health and Safety Solutions Ltd