HSE publishes critical review on hand-arm vibration (HAV) syndrome

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Migrant construction workers in Doha, March 2013
A new HSE review “has not found any strong evidence of a precise quantitative relationship between exposure to vibration and health outcomes”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published a critical review of evidence related to hand-arm vibration syndrome and the extent of exposure to vibration, which concerns nearly two million UK workers who use continuous vibrating hand-held machinery. 

The report describes a systematic literature review on the nature of the exposure-response relationship between hand-transmitted vibration and the elements of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), ie the vascular, neurosensory and musculoskeletal components. The review of the literature has not found any strong evidence of a precise quantitative relationship between exposure to vibration and health outcomes, either for vascular or neurosensory HAVS, although there is some evidence that suggests possible limited reversibility of vascular HAVS after cessation of exposure. However, the limited evidence concerning neurosensory HAVS does not indicate any reversibility of the condition.

According to the HSE, this review indicates that there are a number of unknowns with regard to the exposure-response relationships for HAVS. Despite on-going research in the area of HAVS, quantitative exposure-response relationships for HAVS remain elusive and ill-defined. It has still not been possible to establish if there is a no effect level for vibration exposure, other than the somewhat obvious zero exposure level.

HAVS – Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

You can find the latest information and safety advice about HAVs by visiting the The HRreview Shop, which now contains the EBIS health and safety manual range. These manuals are designed to support health and safety policies within your organisation. They are clearly written, easy to understand and are extensively used for:

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  1. I’m glad to see this. How many employers regularly assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration so that they can protect their employees from risks to their health? Sadly, not many probably.

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