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News

New vibration at work regulations help prevent up to two million employees from occupational ill health

HSE InfoLine : 29 June, 2005  (Company News)
New regulations that will help both employers and employees to take preventive action from vibration risks in the workplace come into force on 6 July 2005, says the Health and Safety Executive. The European Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive (Directive 2002/44) deals with the control of diseases caused by vibration at work from equipment, vehicles and machines.
New regulations that will help both employers and employees to take preventive action from vibration risks in the workplace come into force on 6 July 2005, says the Health and Safety Executive. The European Physical Agents (Vibration) Directive (Directive 2002/44) deals with the control of diseases caused by vibration at work from equipment, vehicles and machines.

Hand Arm Vibration is a major cause of occupational ill health and it is estimated around five million workers are exposed to HAV in the workplace. Two million of these workers are exposed to levels of vibration where there are clear risks of developing disease. Each year, approximately 3,000 new claims for Industrial Injury Disability Benefit are made in relation to vibration white finger and vibration related carpal tunnel syndrome.

In leaflets published today employers are provided with simple guidance to help them to decide whether their employees are likely to exceed the new exposure action or limit values. The leaflets also provide advice on practical actions employers can take to control the risk, stressing the importance of simple, common sense measures to reduce exposure.

There is a transitional period for the exposure limit values up to 2010. This would allow work activities where the use of older tools and machinery cannot keep exposures below the exposure limit value to continue in certain circumstances. The transitional period has been extended to 2014 in the case of whole-body exposures in the agriculture and forestry sectors.

Dr Elizabeth Gibby, Head of Injuries Reduction at HSE said, 'Hand-arm vibration syndrome is a serious and widespread occupational disease affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Britain. I very much welcome the new Regulations and believe they will boost our efforts in reducing the risks to acceptable levels.

'Most employers in industry understand that regulation is necessary and accept that hand-arm vibration syndrome is a major occupational health problem that needs to be addressed.

'I find it heartening that many industries and employers have already made serious efforts to adhere with the requirements of these new regulations even before they have come into force.

'HSE and industry have together done much to tackle the problem of vibration in the workplace over the past 10 years and have achieved a lot of success through helpful guidance and industry wide campaigns. I am optimistic that by continuing to work closely with industry, we can get closer to our goal of eliminating new cases of disabling disease.'
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