In our pursuit of continual improvement we recently reviewed the company’s occupational health provision and in doing so it was identified that hand arm vibration (HAV), was proving to be more of a significant risk than previously indicated and that this should be a major focus for the company moving forward. The company became aware that this was not a unique problem for PDL but was a common issue across the utilities sector and has also been highlighted by clients such as DCWW.
A new program for monitoring and reviewing operative exposure was put in place for each employee. All vibrating tools are now tagged. Employees who use vibrating tools and equipment are required to complete daily exposure records which are reviewed by their supervisor before submitting to the SHEQ team. Any activity that indicates 100 points and above is assessed with consideration given to changing the working practice or changing the tools and equipment used. Some tasks required further analysis and studying, and for these, HAVi personal exposure meters have been issued to confirm the data which employees were providing.
The whole reassessment of HAVs management also identified that we had a number of unsuitable items of tools and equipment in our fleet. This led us in to discussions with tool provider Makita. Makita were very keen to work with us and to help identify the most suitable tools for different applications.
Field trials of tools were held by some of our operatives with Makita providing free of charge, various tools to help with the selection of the most suitable and compliant items. This was a very worthwhile exercise working with the experts and expanding our own knowledge, and the management of HAVs. Also input from our operatives has been constructive and valuable.
We are working also with a specialist HAV’s company Earlsmere, who have helped to assess the frequencies and performance of our existing fleet and who now provide a detailed HAVs data sheet for all existing and future additions to our stock.