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Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS is a condition that has the potential to affect any worker who uses powered hand-held or hand-guided or fed tools as a major part of their job. Workers whose hands are regularly exposed to high vibration may suffer from several kinds of effects to the hands and arm, including impaired blood circulation and damage to nerves and muscles. It is felt as a tingling or numbness in the fingers or where finger blanching (whitening) occurs.

The affects are cumulative and as time passes the attacks may involve considerable pain and loss of manual dexterity, resulting in clumsiness and reduced grip strength. In severe cases, blood circulation may be permanently impaired and fingers may take on a blue-black appearance.

Potential sources of high vibration in the workplace include:

  • Chainsaws
  • Strimmers and mowers
  • Blowers and hedge trimmers
  • Grinding and other rotary tools
  • Powered hammers
  • Concrete breakers 
  • Sanders
  • Drills (short duration only)
  • Timber and wood machining tools (short duration only)
  • Percussive metal working tools
  • Percussive tools used in stoneworking





Our aim is to ensure that no employee is subject to an unacceptable or unreasonable level of vibration at work by ensuring that there are safeguards in place. Health surveillance must be carried out for employees who are regularly exposed to vibration above the EAV (2.5m/s2), but is also required for those exposed below the EAV if they are at increased risk e.g. if they report a pre-existing diagnosis of HAVS or any other  condition which affects circulation or nerve conduction such as diabetes, primary Raynaud’s  (a common condition that affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body, usually the fingers and toes) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) etc.

The HAVS Health Surveillance is broken down into the following tiers and all employees are provided with training and information as outlined below:

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NB: If an individual reports any symptoms or signs of HAVS at any stage between Tiers 1-3 they will be referred for a Tier 4 health assessment with the Occupational Health Physician. All individual records will be held in confidence and an anonymous annual report will be available on all employees who have attended for health surveillance and any Tier 4 reviews with the Occupational Health Physician. Where appropriate, summary results for groups of employees will be reported to indicate the effectiveness of vibration control.  

Page updated: 14/07/2021 12:34:04