AN innovative safety device has been helping reduce the likelihood of ill health among the workers that conserve and maintain some of Scotland’s most historic buildings.
Historic Scotland has purchased the technology – known as HAVmeters – to help manage the risk of workers developing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) whilst using vibrating power tools and equipment.
HAVS – otherwise known as ‘vibration white finger’ – is considered one of the biggest dangers associated with using hand-held vibrating tools. Excessive, prolonged exposure to vibration can result in damage to nerves and blood supply in the hand causing numbness and whiteness in the fingers – a condition that is not only extremely painful, but is also not reversible.
The HAVmeter devices, which are produced by Reactec, will be used mainly by grounds maintenance teams working at the Antonine Wall and other Historic Scotland sites across Central and Southern Scotland – including Edinburgh Castle, Arbroath Abbey, Lochgilphead and Holyrood Park.
Jim O’Hagan, managing director at Reactec’s HAVmeter division, said: “We’re delighted that our HAVmeter technology is being used to help maintain safety levels at some of Historic Scotland’s most prominent sites.
“Ground maintenance teams are just as susceptible to injury as workers in other sectors such as construction or engineering, as they all use vibrating equipment for prolonged periods. The danger is that, without proper safety measures in place, they could contract Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – a crippling disease that in the worst cases can leave sufferers in agonising pain and render their fingers numb and useless.
“In the past, the only way to monitor exposure to vibration and reduce the dangers of HAVS was to have workers fill out timesheets showing how long they had spent using vibrating tools. But, the problem with this system was that it was very open to error and workers could easily miscalculate or underestimate how long they had spent using their equipment.
“The HAVmeters, on the other hand, accurately record how long workers are exposed to vibration and alert users when safe levels are being exceeded. They also generate individual reports for every worker showing their exposure to vibration, so it really is the best way of reducing the risks of developing HAVS and keeping workers healthy.
“We’re delighted Historic Scotland has recognised HAVmeter as an important safety device for its staff, and has joined an ever-growing list of prominent names that already use the technology across the UK.”
Andrew Nisbet, Historic Scotland works manager, added: “We have introduced the HAVmeters at our sites along the Antonine Wall before rolling it out at our other properties. These sites require constant grounds maintenance and the meters allow us to ensure that staff are not being exposed to excessive levels of vibration.
“We regularly assess our staff exposure but the meters allow us an extra degree of safety by alerting our teams when the overuse of equipment could be harmful. We have just started using the meters as our summer season starts and will be monitoring the results that they produce.
“We have found them easy to put in place. They will now be rolled out to teams across other properties, including some of the most famous historic landmarks in the country.”
By using HAVmeters – which are small, easy to use devices that can be attached to any vibrating tools or equipment – workers can monitor their exposure to Hand Arm Vibration. The technology measures and records the trigger time and vibration levels and ensures machinery operators do not exceed the action and limit levels stipulated by the Health & Safety Executive.
At the end of their shift, each worker simply returns their HAVmeter to its base station and all the information collected throughout the day automatically downloads. Using specially-developed software, employers can easily monitor any individual staff member’s vibration exposure. HAVmeter is also the only safety product available that enables the data to be easily created into essential management reports at the click of a button.
These reports show workers a full breakdown of their exposure to vibration levels that occupational healthcare staff can use to manage each employees healthcare plan. Every report is complete, accurate and with no ambiguity – providing the most comprehensive information about exposure to vibration levels in the workplace.
For more information about the HAVmeter, check out the website www.reactec.com or phone 0131 221 0930.
MEDIA RELEASE issued by the Holyrood Partnership. You too can post your story ideas for journalists (aka Press or media releases), on allmediascotland.com. Email here for more information.
Check out twitter.com/nonstopstories.