About 18 months ago we started to develop our Health and Safety Program for Upper Hutt Hire.
At the start we felt a bit intimidated by the new legislation, namely the Health and Safety at Works Act 2015. Some of the jargon and requirements were hard to grasp.
But as we worked our way through the requirements things became a little easier to understand. While the NZ regulations are very much based on the Australian legislation, there’s also a huge resource available to us from the UK via the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
God bless the POMs. The HSE has done a lot of work in the area of ‘hard-arm vibrations’ in the work place. Many of us can probably remember using an old power tool or lawnmower that left your hands numb and your fingers tingling. As well as tiring the body and increasing the risk of dropping the power tool, repeated exposure to vibration forces can lead to some nasty consequences, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and white finger syndrome. There’s a good summary paper at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg175.pdf
As we continue to work through the process of risk assessment on all our equipment, we have started taking a lot more notice of the manufacturers stated acceleration forces for individual pieces of equipment or how much they vibrate. Many manufacturers have already been very pro-active: Makita employ some unique Anti Vibration Technology in all their demolition hammers, so that the acceleration forces are significantly reduced, allowing workers to use the tools longer. It’s another good reason why Makita is our preferred supplier of power tools.
We’ve also started to use the HSE ‘Ready Reckoner’ http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/readyreckoner.htm to help calculation the maximum allowable time using a piece of equipment. For instance, our Makita medium concrete breaker has an average acceleration force of 8.5 ms2 which, according to the HSE Ready Reckoner, limits continual exposure to less than an hour.
There are ways to reduce the effect of vibration: taking frequent breaks or job rotation with another person will reduce the risk but please be mindful of the possible consequences, especially if your job involves daily exposure to such vibration. The best way we can help is provide the necessary information and ensure the gear we buy is the best for the job.