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The HSE has just released new guidance on how best to manage the use of hearing protection for employees who wear hearing aids. The following is a summary, but you can also download a full advance copy.
There are key considerations when implementing a hearing conservation programme in areas that include personnel who already have a hearing impairment and may need to use hearing aids.
- Would switching off my hearing aids protect me? No! High levels of noise can increase existing hearing impairment.
- Does having hearing loss mean PPE is less necessary? No, quite the opposite. It is more necessary as any additional damage will just add to the impairment. There is a greater duty of care for personnel with hearing impairment.
- Can hearing aids double as PPE? Not usually – unless they have been tested to the relevant hearing protection standards (ISO 4869) to provide attenuation data.
- Using hearing aids with hearing protectors: possible? The general advice is to remove the aids. Whilst careful selection of large cup earmuffs with a flat frequency response or active muffs may provide an acceptable option, you will need specialist advice.
- Safety sounds: it is imperative that everyone using hearing protection can still hear and respond to warning sounds. This must be checked and alternative warning signals (visual etc) installed where necessary.
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) not only causes the well-known problems associated with communication and tinnitus, but it also increases the risk of dementia (by c 9%) and mental health issues and reduces employment and household income. Consequently, it is very important that staff with existing hearing impairment are protected from further damage.
In the real world, PPE is often an order of magnitude less effective than generally realised – for noise levels above c 95dB(A), for example, it is unlikely to provide adequate protection. Consequently, the best option is to usually to invest resources in noise control rather than simply repeating placebo measurements to either eliminate the problem or to reduce the noise to a level where PPE is effective. Using the latest low cost engineering technology can make noise control projects self-financing surprisingly often… Our noise control audit (instead of, or as well as, a risk assessment) provides a detailed cost/benefit analysis of the options to reduce noise across a whole site or from a single machine that provides the information you need to make the best risk management decisions.
You can download an advance copy of the guidance below (it will appear on the HSE website later this year).
ASA ruling: wrist mounted HAV monitors do not measure to the standard … not suitable for regulatory risk assessment..
Why did the Advertising Standards Authority have to rule on what should be common knowledge? What is HAVS monitoring best practice, what do insurers say and could zero monitoring be the best option?
You would have thought that the issues surrounding wrist-mounted vibration monitors had already been thoroughly settled. Apparently not so in the minds of some. The following is an outline of some of the very costly myths associated with HAVS vibration monitoring and a guide to the best practice options. A summary of the ASA ruling is also included.
Getting risk assessment and management right is not just an academic exercise. If companies unwittingly spend too much (or even any) of their budget on monitoring that is not necessary or compliant with the regulatory guidance, they have less to spend on risk reduction. Consequently, tool users may be at higher risk of developing vibration white finger or HAVS. Knowing of someone with such severe symptoms they are unable to use toilet paper is a salutary experience, particularly when you know that the damage could have been avoided through better risk management…
ASA ruling on HAVS measurement
We published a post to support and disseminate the information in an advance copy of the new 2017 HSE guidance, stating that wrist or glove mounted vibration monitors cannot be used to acquire operator vibration exposure data to the ISO 5349 standard. Subsequently, the manufacturer complained to the ASA as they disagreed with the contents.
Following a review of the technical submissions, the ASA has ruled (read the full ruling here) that the information in the post was both correct and accurate.
ASA rules against manufacturers’ claims, stating “We considered that because we had seen evidence that wrist-mounted transducers did not measure hand-arm vibration in accordance with the Standard, did not provide ELV or EAV data that was required by the Regulations and were not, therefore, suitable for risk assessments of hand-arm vibration as set out by the Regulations…
We considered that because INVC had shown that wrist mounted devices did not measure hand–arm vibration in accordance with the Standard, or produce the data required by the Regulations, essentially because they did not measure vibration where the surface of the tool made contact with the hand, the data captured by a wrist mounted device was likely to be problematic when defending a claim for exposure to hand–arm vibration and therefore a decision to use such devices may put employers at risk of financial loss… The claims (against INVC) were not upheld.”
HSE guidance – HAVS monitoring best practice – Insurers
There are 3 key elements covered in the latest HSE guidance.
- The first states that there is no requirement to continually monitor workers’ exposure to vibration and that it is “probably not good use of your or your employees’ time except for very specific circumstances”.
- The second is concerned with measurement technique. This specifically states that “Hand-arm vibration measurements should be made with the transducer firmly attached to the vibrating surface” (as per BS EN ISO 5349-1 2001) and “There is currently no wrist or glove mounted device which measures vibration suitable for use in a vibration risk assessment.” This is completely unambiguous and, you might (perhaps naively) think, not open to much interpretation…
- The third is that you should focus on taking practical action to control and reduce exposure and risks. We advise that you should almost always spend your resources on risk reduction actions rather than on costly placebo monitoring that tells you what you already know – that there is a risk. It comes down to a cost/benefit analysis: would the money and resources spent on monitoring (which is not required by the HSE) be better spent on improving processes and equipment? Moreover, where cases do go to court, the concern is almost always over the actions, or lack of actions, to manage risk, not over the measurements themselves.
Parts of the literature associated with some of the monitoring systems, however, either completely ignore the regulatory guidance or “reinterpret” it to suit. It has also been suggested that while there is no legal requirement to continually monitor workers’ exposure to vibration, insurance companies recommend it. The major insurer, QBE, begs to differ. In the QBE HAVS guidance they state “…there is no requirement in the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 for continual monitoring of exposures and QBE does not expect this as a condition of insurance.”
Placebo vibration measurement instead of action
There is an increasingly sophisticated hand-arm vibration monitoring industry that encourages a “risk measurement” culture where assessment is an end in itself rather than just a precursor to the greater challenge of using the information to guide actions to reduce risk. As illustrated above, whilst much of this industry is honest about the capabilities and uses of their monitors, some suppliers seem determined to muddy the waters surrounding HAVS exposure measurement. The key question to ask before implementing a measurement or monitoring strategy is “Will additional measurements affect my risk reduction actions?”
If the answer is “no”, then don’t do it. If the answer is “yes”, then the choice comes down to the results of a cost/benefit analysis. Would the cost of the additional measurements or monitoring provide sufficient benefits to be worthwhile compared with alternatives such as rapid virtual assessments from field vibration databases at a tiny fraction of the cost and hassle? Would it be better to spend the resources saved on risk reduction strategies instead?
We have and do recommend the use of various forms of continuous monitoring systems for certain (usually high risk) activities as an aid to gathering data (finger-on-trigger times in particular). Once the initial data is in, however, there is usually no need to continue monitoring unless it can be justified on the grounds of a cost/benefit analysis – something we generate when evaluating what would constitute best practice for an organisation.
Keep in mind the fact that both the HSE and the courts are likely to judge you on your risk reduction actions, not on the details of your measurements. They also advise that you should use reliable published field vibration data for risk assessments wherever possible and that companies should spend their time and resources reducing risk rather than on placebo assessments based on re-measuring and reassessing tools and activities for which they already have good data.
The future of HAVS risk monitoring and assessment
There is no doubt that, in principle, the way that HAVS risk is assessed could be improved. The level of vibration from a tool is just one of the risk factors. The other main workplace factors that affect risk are temperature, grip strength (ergonomics), tool productivity and individual susceptibility (e.g. blood flow into the hands). Unfortunately, the Action and Limit Values include a decimal point which lends a false air of precision to the data. 5.0m/s2 A8 actually means “this is a rough guess; it could be perhaps 3 – 4 m/s2 at low temperatures and where high grip strength is used, but possibly 6 – 7 m/s2 for very low grip strength and at high temperatures”. In other words, variables other than tool vibration and trigger time have a substantial effect on the risks to individual operators for a given vibration exposure.
However, as a very experienced engineer in the field of vibration measurement (when I started, you had to put together your own vibration monitoring kit from discrete components and manually apply the HAV filter!), I can tell you that developing an improved version of ISO 5349 that could take some of these risk factors into account would be a very, very long-winded nightmare of a technical challenge. You can’t just rock-up and claim that your latest wrist or glove mounted monitor design is the one true vibration dosimeter that evaluates operator risk, despite the fact that it doesn’t measure to the standard and therefore the data cannot be compared with the ELV or EAV values in the regulations.
What do you think?
I’d be very interested in any feedback or experiences that you may have on the subject of vibration monitoring or any of the other issues raised in this post. Either click the link below to email me direct or use our contact form here.
Peter Wilson, Technical Director
Contact us if you’d like our independent take on HAVS monitoring and risk management. In addition to our other services and IOSH HAV competency courses, we also run a HAV Master Class as both a public and an in-house workshop or management briefing (0.5 – 1 day). It not only provides a review of the practical implications of the HSE guidance and the limitations of the various vibration measurement and monitoring systems, but it also provides a forum in which to discuss existing risk management procedures and the ways to improve them using current best practice. Effective vibration risk management is often far simpler and very much less costly than you might think.
We are living in interesting times in the field of hearing damage risk reduction due to the host of new (and forthcoming) ways to reduce risk dramatically. Here are 4 new things that you should know about…
Hearing test free app: launched by the WHO for World Hearing Day (03/03/19) for both Android and Apple, the hearWHO App allows anyone to check and monitor their hearing over time. Running the app is an interesting experience…
More information here>
UK Hearing Conservation Association (UKHCA) launched: this is an umbrella organisation intended to pull together all aspects of best practice to reduce hearing damage risk. As you might expect, the INVC is a founder member providing industrial noise expertise and best practice advice to the group. The new fledgling website has just gone live – keep an eye open for developments as the project comes to life…
New OAE hearing screening test coming soon: audiometry cannot detect early hearing damage. Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) can. The new low-cost OAE test system is due to be available very soon from suppliers as a fast, objective, low-cost office-based annual test to determine how well your risk management programme is performing. We think this will quickly become standard best practice. Contact us find out more, to keep up to date with progress or if you would be interested in a trial when it is available.
The HSE has had enough! Guidance and practice update: you wouldn’t believe just how tired the regulators are of companies wasting time and resources on check-box processes and poor quality placebo noise reports. Instead of unnecessary, largely low quality (2/3rds of assessments are inadequate) repeat surveys that tell you what you already know, they want to see actions such as noise control audits that result in the implementation of innovative low-cost (often self-financing) noise control measures to reduce risk. Contact us to find out if you could remove the requirement for PPE in noisy areas or if you’d like to attend the next HSE/INVC noise control workshop.
Noise Master Class Workshop – 1 day
This workshop covers all these new techniques, the latest best practice and more. More information or book your place to find out how to implement a risk management revolution that can reduce hearing damage risk by c 90% and can also dramatically reduce costs.
Once more there are claims that wrist/glove mounted vibration transducers can be used to assess HAV risk in operators as per the British Standard (BS5349). No they can’t. Thank you for listening…
I would suggest that anyone considering using any of the wrist (or glove) mounted automated transducer measurement systems in an attempt to measure vibration (as against using them as tool timers linked to properly measured tool vibration levels) to assess operator exposure should consider the following before making a decision:-
- It is specifically deprecated by the HSE. Their recent guidance states: “There is currently no wrist or glove mounted device which measures vibration suitable for use in a vibration risk assessment”. Hence as wrist (or glove) mounted transducers do not measure according to ISO/BS5349, the data they produce is not related to the EAV or the ELV dose values and cannot be used for comparison with them in a risk assessment. Those are the facts. This could not be clearer…
- Carry out a simple experiment on a high vibration tool (impulsive tools in particular): measure on the tool handle as per BS5349. Measure on the wrist with the wristband loose, and again with it tight enough to cut off the blood supply to the hand. Compare with the measurement made to the standard. They are different – which means they are wrong by definition as all the risk statistics were based on tool handle measurements.
- How do you persuade the operator to move the wristband to the other hand as is necessary when using different tools/handles or when swapping the tool to the other hand? This doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere in the vibration monitoring system sales literature.
- The HSE specifically say that you should spend a minimum on monitoring and focus resources on risk reduction instead. This makes a lot of sense and is best practice.
A recent back-to-back vibration measurement test on 2 items of plant compared the results from BS5349 measurements (2 different personnel using 2 different meters) with those from a “leading” wrist-mounted transducer system (the latter carefully controlled in a way that probably does not reflect general use). Whilst all the BS values were within 5% of each other, the comparable wrist-mounted data varied by between 14% and 240%…
There is an IOM report that is purported to validate wrist measured vibration data. However, this is based on a statistical analysis of supplied data sets without knowledge of any potential exclusions, i.e. it is not an independent study of the validity of wrist mounted vibration monitoring. Validating alternative automated HAV monitoring wrist or glove techniques would require submission to ISO/BS committees, peer review and the extensive reevaluation of risk data, not just a limited statisical analysis carried out in isolation. Moreover, the problems associated with the laws of physics and human nature would still remain.
Now imagine you are the barrister for a HAV injury claimant. Based on the above, just how easy would you find it to drive a coach and horses through a risk management defence based on wrist-mounted vibration data capture? Potentially a very costly mistake…
The new HSE guidance on HAV measurement and management covering the increasing concerns over mis-measurement may well change the way you measure and monitor HAV risk – dramatically… We have developed a short HAV Master Class competency update workshop that covers these and other issues. Check availability and dates to ensure that you are up to date with best practice.
There is considerable deliberately disingenuous disinformation put out by some suppliers taking advantage of the technical nature of the subject to promote sales of products that do not perform as advertised. Tool timers: fine if properly set-up. Vibration dosimeters: absolutely not. In addition, the whole thrust of the wrist/glove mounted automated vibration measurement system approach is that you should spend your resources on continuous, costly logging and measurement rather than on reducing the risk. This directly contradicts HSE advice and goes against current best practice.
In its place
This type of monitoring certainly has a place in risk management – provided that you can justify the high cost. Whether it is a good choice depends on the cost v benefit for your particular circumstances. If you have spent much of your budget on monitoring, there may little left to actually reduce the risk e.g. by buying better tools instead. These monitoring systems may be OK as sophisticated tool timers used to monitor likely exposures provided properly measured tool data is used in the calculation and not the wrist/glove measurements. They can also sometimes give an indication that a tool needs to be serviced – although the operator could do that for free…
Whilst hand-held transducers are not generally recommended, they can be used in circumstances where hard-mounting a transducer would be difficult – as long as you can make sure that the transducer is very firmly held against the tool. However, the results should be treated with care as they can be significantly different to hard-mounted transducer data.
White paper: HAV mis-measurement – to no standards whatsoever… New HSE guidance
Contact us if you’d like to discuss the issues surrounding current HAV risk management best practice. More information about this white paper and a summary of the latest HSE guidance on the topic is available here>.
How to update the current (failing) noise risk management process to make it much more effective – and self-financing
Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims of £400,000,000 per annum show that thousands of people are suffering hearing damage, most of which could be avoided by changing the way risk management is is carried out.
A simple, innovative approach that dramatically improves the effectiveness of noise risk management was described at the BOHS OH2017 conference in Harrowgate by our technical director, Peter Wilson. The key elements are:-
- current risk management processes are demonstrably not working
- applying simple best practice re PPE and noise control would reduce risks by c 90%.
Make this happen by:-
- making this best practice instantly available to anyone on the shop floor (no noise expertise required) so that it gets used
- use a real-world performance algorithm to evaluate and improve actual PPE performance
- track performance and provide feedback
- taking advantage of the fact that this approach is self-financing – it saves money and time compared with current practice
Click the link below to acquire a copy of the presentation.
You can learn more about the new best practice approach and how to apply it within your own organisation on the one day Noise Risk Management Master Class workshop (Jume 15th, Slough). This also functions as an update to noise competency training and includes the revised HSE draft guidance and the radical new otoacoustic emission hearing damage screening test technology that allows you to track annual changes in the hearing damage of personnel.
The current noise risk management process has failed. This is how we fix it to reduce risk by c 90%…
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) claims currently running at about £400,000,000 per annum is unsustainable and demonstrates that current risk management processes have been ineffective and must be changed. Thousands of people are suffering hearing damage needlessly due to a lack of knowledge. Did you know that:-
- PPE – muffs: lose 70% of their performance after 1 month; 90% due to glasses etc; 40% of PPE users get zero protection
- PPE – plugs: most not fitted correctly; as low as 3dB attenuation; women get up to 9dB less attenuation than men
- Audiometry: the damage criteria used include frequencies that do not reflect hearing loss; no threshold shift is necessarily detected despite substantial damage and reported symptoms
Noise Master Class – one day workshop
Book your place to find out how to implement a risk management revolution that can reduce hearing damage risk by c 90% and that can dramatically reduce costs
This one day workshop provides details of the key innovative changes in best practice that should be introduced to reduce the risks of future hearing damage by around 90% at a fraction of the cost of the current conventional (top-down) risk assessment processes. The day is suitable for anyone with responsibilities for risk management who needs to keep up to date with the latest developments and expectations or for people who have previously attended accredited noise competency training. It includes:-
- New HSE guidance: puts the emphasis on action, not placebo documentation and processes
- New approach to risk management: brings together all the simple, effective “low hanging fruit” risk reduction elements, making them easily available to non-specialists. This replaces the current typical “top-down” process, giving anyone the means and responsibility to reduce risk – at negligible cost. The process is initially available by email, covering: PPE tool: hearing protection database and real-world performance algorithm. Noise control tool: database providing instant access to detailed, low cost engineering solutions to common problems
- New OAE hearing screening test: audiometry does not detect the early stages of hearing damage. Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) does. It can assess and track the actual performance of risk reduction programmes, detecting shortcomings before significant damage is done. OAE will soon be available as a fast, objective, low-cost test by a technician in a quiet office that assesses noise-induced damage to the inner ear structures at an early stage, removing the guesswork as to your risk reduction programme performance.
- Digital Noise Assessment (DNA) App beta: currently under development, this will make the new best practice available to anyone, anywhere on smartphone or tablet with automated action reporting and noise measurement.
Misunderstanding Hand Arm Vibration monitoring marketing material can put hands and safety policies at risk. Caveat emptor.
Stop Press: 27/02/17: HSE has just issued new guidance on HAV measurement and management covering similar concerns. These may well change the way you measure and monitor HAV risk – dramatically… A one-day HAV Master Class and competency update workshop covering these topics is now available. Book a place to ensure that you are up to date with best practice – places are limited.
We are regularly asked about new vibration measurement technology, particularly re the latest hand-held, glove or wrist mounted transducers that are presented as the latest assessment improvements. Whilst they may be useful tools, unfortunately some claims have been disingenuous and end users have misunderstood the limitations inherent in the vibration measurement techniques. Where these techniques do not conform to measurement standards, the results cannot be compared with the regulatory action and limit values. If these values are mistakenly used, then operator risks could be seriously underestimated. Put simply, none of these alternative measurement techniques provide values that can be used for a reliable assessment of the levels of vibration to which operators are exposed as per BS5349.
The following is a summary explaining why alternative HAV measurement techniques may not provide correct values. Click below to acquire the definitive white paper guide.
Why is poor vibration measurement technique such a recurring issue?
Correct measurement technique is a regular issue because the British Standard (BS EN ISO 5349-1:2001 2:2002) technique is time consuming. Common problems include:-
- Service providers taking short cuts: e.g. using hand-held transducers because it is quicker, despite that fact it is inaccurate; strapping accelerometers to tool handles with tape etc…
- New instruments and measurement techniques: many end users have been left with the impression that hand, glove and wrist mounted transducers can be used to carry out vibration measurements to BS5349 – they cannot. Some of the wording used in the descriptions of some systems and services has caused confusion.
Note the statistics used to estimate the relationship between the level and duration of vibration (dose) and the damage risk were based on values from transducers hard-mounted to tool handles. If a new measurement method gives a different value, it is incorrect by definition. Moreover, the HSE guidance recommends spending a minimum on measurement, investing in risk reduction instead. In keeping with this recommendation, for example, most of our HAV risk assessments are taken from our extensive HAV-Base database of accurate field vibration values. This can dramatically reduce (or even eliminate) measurement via virtual assessments by email (contact us for details).
Why non-standard vibration measurement techniques are not accurate
The reasons why alternative measurement systems do not provide vibration values comparable with the regulations are down to the simple dynamics discussed below.
BSEN ISO5349-1:2001/2:2002 measurements: the standard measurement where the transducer is hard mounted to the handle. This can be modeled by a stiff spring with low damping which does not vary. This provides the most reliable and repeatable data which can be compared directly with the regulatory action and limit values.
Hand-held or glove mounted transducer: the transducer is gripped between hand and handle or is mounted in a glove as illustrated. This introduces a set of soft, variable springs with high damping between the handle and the accelerometer. Consequently, higher frequencies are progressively filtered out. In addition, the handle shape and grip strength can seriously affect the measured level of vibration (for a constant vibration source). It is not difficult to measure levels that are less than half the correct value.
Wrist mounted transducer: wrist mounted “watch” based transducer are very effectively vibration isolated from the source. Only low frequency vibration is transmitted into the accelerometer. Consequently, the measured value can bear even less relationship to the actual vibration in the handle than for hand-held transducers. It is also highly variable – how tight do you wear your watch-strap?
HAV tool vibration measurement – the hard (and only correct) way…
The BS5349 measurement technique minimises the number of variables involved in hand-arm vibration measurements and provides the only accurate levels that can be compared with the risk statistics (the basis for the action values in the regulations). That is not to say it is not possible to devise better measurement techniques, but many years of work would be required to relate any vibration values to operator risk.
Some marketing literature surrounding the use of hand-held, glove or wrist mounted transducer measurement systems can be misleading if it gives the impression that the vibration values can be used directly in operator risk calculations. If incorrectly used in this way, these values can dramatically underestimate the risks to operators which could lead to avoidable heath issues and potentially serious repercussions should there be a claim.
If you need to carry out full HAV risk assessments (as well as measurements), there is a best practice guide checklist and open source template tool register available for download. We can also provide a full range of HAV training courses and workshops (up to full competency).
The availability of this new test will have a dramatic effect on the management of hearing loss prevention programmes…
New technology has become available that provides companies with data that they can use to check the real world performance of their hearing conservation programmes very quickly and very easily. It is a development of otoacoustic emission (OAE) screening technology that, unlike conventional audiometry, can be used to detect the very early stages of damage to the outer hair cells in the cochlea. Coupled with the latest hardware, it is a fast, objective, accurate and low cost test that can be used to assess the difference between the theoretical and the actual protection afforded by PPE programmes.
Applying OAE in practice
OAE has been used as standard practice to evaluate the hearing of babies for many years, but is relatively new in the industrial arena. However, AkzoNobel in the Netherlands, for example, has been using OAE to track changes in the condition of staff hearing to inform risk management procedures and as a motivational tool. OAE is an objective test that does not require special soundproof facilities (a quiet office will do) and the results, (in the form of % damage) are easily understood and tracked. An HSE report on the usefulness of OAE testing in occupational health surveillance (in 2011) concluded, that, even then, it was useful for the early detection of at risk groups and commented on the value that it can bring to preventative risk management of noise health risks.
Noise competency training update
As OAE will become an important element of best practice, we will soon be updating our IOSH competency training courses to reflect this fact. These one-day refresher Master Classes will be run in conjunction with Rob Shepheard, Consultant Audiologist and a leading expert on the subject in the UK. Contact us if you’d like advanced information on the dates and venues.
Would you like to test the technology on your site at no cost?
Rob would like to run some additional field trials of the technology as part of a fully funded project (via Acton Plan on Hearing Loss – NHS). This would involve testing a small number of noise exposed personnel and collating the results – at no cost to the host company. You would get the results and be able to test the approach in advance of its imminent adoption as part of best practice.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss the changes we foresee in best practice and the potential benefits to your company. If you would like to take part in the study, contact us or contact Rob directly at email@example.com +44-1603-208419.
This is one of a number of highly rated, interactive and practical noise related workshops developed for Environmental Health Officers. They are held locally by a host authority, saving on travel, time – and at a fraction of the cost of conventional training. It can even be a profitable exercise…
Noise Workshop Content and Objectives
Make the best use of your equipment and speed-up the processing of recordings
Northampton Borough Council: Thursday 27th October
The ability to record sound files is increasingly common – noise nuisance recorders, sound level meters or smartphones. This workshop covers the practical techniques that make recording and subsequent analysis much faster and more efficient, including procedures for accurate and reliable calibrated recording using complainant operated noise nuisance or any other type of recorder. It also covers subjective and objective analysis of recordings (particularly on PCs) and the use of frequency analysis related both to BS4142 and to noise source diagnosis.
The workshop is an opportunity to acquire practical techniques, short cuts and “tricks-of-the-trade” that reduce dramatically the time required to solve intractable noise problems. The workshop carries 2 CPD points and includes:-
- Noise Recording Best Practice
Sound level meters and noise nuisance recorders – complainant issues – £100 on the web converts any old SLM into a sound recording meter, or use a smartphone…
- Best Practice in Processing Recordings
Techniques that speed-up both subjective and objective analysis, from ears to PCs
- Interpretation and Source Diagnosis
Is it a fan – or a pump? Does it exist? Low frequency issues…
- Remote Control of Noise
Free evaluation of what constitutes BPM with costs typically 80% lower than conventional mitigation
- Free audio playback analysis software
Contact us to book a place or to run your own workshop locally.
A simple way to cope with mobile plant and tools
A question about a common problem that came up when giving a presentation at a recent IOSH meeting has a really simple answer. What struck me was the enthusiasm for a solution that we developed and been advocating as best practice for years in our training courses. Whilst the talk was on noise and noise control, the approach is equally applicable to Hand-Arm Vibration – in fact, combining the two (where appropriate) saves resources.
Q: “How do you assess noise risks from mobile plant in practice when tools and locations change all the time?”
A: “Put labels on the plant showing the distance within which PPE is mandatory.”
The very mobility and variations in the tools or mobile plant in factories or on construction sites, at first glance would seem to make it difficult to manage and police likely exposures. For noise, the risks for a “quiet” operator may suddenly escalate when a jack hammer starts up nearby. For HAVS, the degree of risk from a particular tool use may not be obvious (unless you can do the calculation in your head).
Combining Noise and HAV Data
We advocate creating a spreadsheet database of the items of plant which lists noise levels at the ear and also calculates the “safe” working distance within which PPE
is mandatory i.e. the distance at which the noise falls to below 85dB(A). This figure should be calculated for the worst case i.e. when there are reflecting surfaces nearby (which can increase the local noise level by several dB). The same spreadsheet should also include the levels of vibration (where appropriate) and the calculated “safe” working time to reach the Exposure Limit Value (ELV) of 5m^2 (single tool use finger-on-trigger time). Our free template HAV spreadsheet is available via this page.
Print labels for the plant and tools. To check risk management on site, you don’t need a sound level meter or a HAV exposure calculator, you just look at the stickers. A glance at a tool label not only tells you how risky the noise is (it also informs the operator – very simply and with no noise knowledge required), but also who should be wearing PPE. The HAVS version is a very simple way to inform about relative risk (albeit, for single tool use) and is the basis for questions for operators about how long they have been using the tools.
Not perfect, but very simple and very effective…
We already have a huge database of both noise and HAV data for mobile plant and tools that we use to implement this approach. Instant virtual noise and HAV assessment by email…
I’d like more information or to discuss the practicalities