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Hand and Arm Vibration (HAV) Monitoring for DFS Furniture plc


The Client

DFS (DFS plc) has been hand-making sofas for over 50 years and is the biggest sofa retailer and manufacturer in Britain, with over 120 stores across the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain.

The Problem

To help the company carry out its ethical conduct, safety, and environmental management ethos, we undertook Hand and Arm vibration (HAV) Monitoring and Assessments at four manufacturing locations, in areas of the facilities where powered hand tools were commonly used. The purpose of the HAV monitoring and assessments was to provide DFS with quantitative hand and arm vibration exposure data for formal risk assessments and compliance with prescribed legal control limits, as set out in The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

Hand-arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), as well as specific conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. HAVS (also known as vibration white finger and dead finger) is an industrial injury triggered by continuous use of vibrating hand-held tools. HAVS is a widely recognised industrial disease affecting tens of thousands of workers. It is a disorder that affects the blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. Its best-known effect is vibration-induced white finger (VWF).

The Solution

The HAV monitoring and assessments were achieved by identifying approximately 15 commonly used powered hand tools that could present a HAV syndrome risk at each facility. Each identified tool was fitted with a triaxial accelerometer at the handle of the tool, as close as possible to the thumb and forefinger, or the heel of the hand, using anti-vibration tie wraps and a mechanical tie wrap tensioner to ensure a tight fit.

To assess the total vibration entering the hand, measurements were taken simultaneously along the three orthogonal axes, x, y, and z, over representative periods of time and under representative conditions as agreed with the operatives while using the tools.

HAV exposure risk is not only related to the vibration intensity of the tool, but also the frequency and time spent each day operating it [Vibration intensity (m.s-2) x trigger time (minutes)]. Careful observation and timing of the duration of exposure was also carried out.

Carl Renshaw & Steven Edwards were the occupational hygienists attending site to carry out this service. Steven and Carl have many years of expertise and hold the following qualifications:

Carl Renshaw

  • MSc (Occupational Hygiene) University of Manchester
  • IOSH, Hand-Arm Vibration Risk Assessment & Management
  • ‘Institute of Acoustics’ Certificate of Competence in Workplace Noise Assessment
  • ‘PCert2’ General Principles of Workplace Control (BEBOH 1995)
  • Certificate of Competence in Workplace Control (BEBOH 1996)
  • Certified Competent Persons Certificate (CCP)
  • O.H. Module M103 Control of Hazardous Substances with credit (BOHS 2012)
  • NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety
  • City & Guilds (C&G) Environmental Engineers Certificate

Steven Edwards

  • MSc (Applied Acoustics) University of Derby
  • BOHS W501-Measurement of Hazardous Substances

The Results

A comprehensive report was written identifying the level of HAVS risk for each tool/combination of tools and requirements for improved HAVS control. This report identified successful legislative compliance with The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. While the assessments indicated low risk levels, DFS are able to use the report as a basis to continually monitor risk, improve controls where possible, and ensure risk levels are as low as reasonably practicable.