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New rules on vibration take effect this week

`Don't get bogged down in the detail' is the message from the Health and Safety Executive as new regulations covering hand-arm vibration and whole body vibration come into effect this week.
The Control of Vibrations at Work Regulations 2005 introduce exposure action values and exposure limit values for all workers exposed to vibration. But according to Brian Coles, the HSE's vibration policy adviser, people should not be overwhelmed by the figures.

He said: 'We don't want people hung up on the maths and science and therefore not getting on with the practical actions they can take.'

This attitude is reflected in the HSE's launch of a range of guidance documents emphasising a pragmatic approach. This includes pocket cards for employees containing advice such as how to identify symptoms, which tools carry a risk and what steps to take to reduce the risk.

Mr Coles said: 'It is important to get the message to employees as they have a very important role to play when it comes to ensuring the maintenance of tools, adopting good work practices and monitoring symptoms.'

A series of leaflets has also been launched. Mr Coles said: 'The leaflets contain rules of thumb, they're not technical. They contain information about the vibration caused by using different types of tools, the appropriate time periods before use becomes excessive and practical advice about controlling the risks.'

He added: 'We have also introduced a ready-reckoner and a web-based exposure calculator which can be downloaded as an Excel file. But 95-99 per cent of people won't need to use these. Just using the general guidance will be sufficient.'

Andy Sneddon, health and safety director at the Construction Confederation, welcomed the new guidance.

He said: 'We are pleased to see the HSE information is pragmatic and that you don't need a degree in physics to understand it. Raising awareness of practical measures that can be taken is the first step. Rome wasn't built in a day.'

by Paul Howard

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