The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced a number of workshops aimed at helping employers to comply with new regulations governing vibration and noise risk in the workplace.
The European Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive (Directive 2002/44), which deals with the control of complaints caused by vibration at work from equipment, vehicles and machines came into force on 6 July while similar legislation covering noise at work is due to be introduced in the spring of 2006.
According to the HSE, Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) is a major cause of occupational ill health and it is estimated about five million UK workers, in industries such as construction, mining, motor vehicle repair and public utilities, are exposed to HAV in the workplace.
Two million of these workers are exposed to levels of vibration where there are clear risks of developing disease, said the organisation. Each year, about 3,000 new claims for industrial injury disability benefit are made in relation to vibration white finger and vibration-related carpal tunnel syndrome.
Elizabeth Gibby, head of injuries reduction at HSE, said: “Hand-arm vibration syndrome is a serious and widespread occupational disease. Most employers in industry understand that regulation is necessary.”
There is a transitional period for compliance up to 2010. This allows work activities where the use of older tools and machinery cannot keep exposures below the exposure limit value to continue in certain circumstances. The transitional period has been extended to 2014 in the case of whole-body exposures in the agriculture and forestry sectors.
In all HSE is holding 13 road show events jointly with the EEF, the manufacturers association, in major cities throughout the UK between September and November. These aim to offer guidance to employers on practical actions employers can take to control the risk, stressing the importance of simple, common sense measures to reduce exposure.