How much do you know about HAVS?

(Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome) HAVS is serious and disabling, and nearly 2 million people are at risk, according to the latest HSE statistics.

So, what exactly is HAVS?

HAVS may occur in employees in industries and occupations that work with hand-held power tools, hand-guided machinery and hand-fed machines which expose them to vibration.

Prolonged and regular exposure to this vibration can affect the operator’s health, and once the damage is done – it’s permanent.

The good news is that risks from vibration can be controlled, and employees can be protected from ill health issues. Employers have a legal duty to manage these risks and to report confirmed cases of HAVS and vibration-induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 RIDDOR).

HAVS surveillance consists of 5 Tiers:

  • Tier 1 – First questionnaire, filled out by job applicants or employees about to start working with vibrating tools.
  • Tier 2 – This is an annual questionnaire for employees who remain exposed to hand vibration tools.
  • Tier 3 – If an employee declares vibration-related symptoms a Tier 3 assessment will be carried out by a HAVS qualified nurse. This includes taking a detailed history and physical tests that assess the vascular and the nervous system of  the hands. The outcome of this assessment will help the nurse decide whether there is reason to believe that the symptoms could be due to HAVS. If so, the nurse will escalate this to a Tier 4 assessment and physical examination may recommend interim adjustment of exposure to vibration.
  • Tier 4 – This assessment will be carried out by a HAVS qualified doctor. It consists of a detailed history, assessment of symptoms and signs of HAVS. Express Medicals tests include and sensation, assessing the vascular system in the hands and look at grip strength. This is the stage where a formal diagnosis of HAVS or other conditions may be made. Furthermore, the doctor will advise on further surveillance and recommend limits to exposure.
  • Tier 5 – At Express Medicals we can offer standardised Tier 5 testing. This is an optional specialised test that can help a doctor with a diagnosis of HAVs and provide advice on fitness to work.

How Express Medicals can help?

Express Medicals are proud to offer all five tiers of testing for HAVS. We’re one of very few Occupational Health providers in the UK that have the necessary equipment required for Tier 5 testing.

For further information about Express Medical’s range of occupational health services, visit expressmedicals.co.uk/services or call us on 0207 500 9001.