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Majors to publish own vibration data

Leading contractors plan to commission independent testing on a wide range of power tools to gain an accurate picture of the vibration workers will encounter on sites.
Firms belonging to the Major Contractors Group will set up a database of 'real-life' vibration levels to enable contractors to manage workers' exposure to hand-arm vibration.

The project is intended to clear up the confusion between lab-based vibration levels and those actually experienced by workers.

According to Mark Owen, safety officer at Shepherd Construction, who proposed the scheme, the results will help the whole industry in managing HAV.

'Although it is an MCG initiative, we want to make the data available to everybody via a website,' he said.

'We have commissioned our own testing as a company and have found the results to be more indicative of what people experience on site. We have buy-in from a range of manufacturers already in agreeing to provide tools for testing, and we hope others will join them.'

It is hoped that by supplying objective data not only on vibration but also on how each tool performs, employers on site can make informed decisions on how long workers use the tools.

Employers have a duty to manage their workers' exposure to both hand-arm and whole body vibration under new laws brought in at the beginning of the month.

Mr Owen said: 'We are hoping those who work on our sites will look at the data and make informed choices about their tools. We have no problem if subbies say they have, say, a Korean tool if they are only going to use it for 10 minutes, but they need to be managing the situation. The key thing is to make it simple for managers.

'It is a win-win situation. It will enable proper procurement decisions to be made, based on independent information, not on what the manufacturers say.'

Shepherd's first batch of independent testing found the real life vibration to be higher than manufacturers' lab-based levels in every tool tested. The firm is now working on a metering system that will cut off the tool's power when the vibration exposure limit is reached.

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