Geobear trial Havwear Monitor to assess and manage hand arm vibration (HAVS) risk
(April 27, 2018)

28th April 2018  – World Day for Safety & Health at Work

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work.

Geobear recognise Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) could be an occupational hazard for employees.

In celebration of Safety and Health at Work day Geobear’s SHEQ Manager, Bruno D’Arcy discusses the monitoring of hand arm vibration.

The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (2005) places duties on employers to reduce or eliminate exposure to vibration. Prolonged exposure, if unchecked, can lead to conditions such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) that are both painful and debilitating. Advanced symptoms cannot be reversed and become a significant blight on a person’s quality of life.

The Vibration Regulations highlight areas for controlling exposure and provide advice such as:

  • Working methods which eliminate or reduce exposure
  • Choice of work equipment
  • Appropriate maintenance programmes
  • Suitable and sufficient information and training for employees
  • Limitation of the duration and magnitude of exposure
  • Appropriate work schedules with adequate breaks
  • Protection of employees from cold and damp

In plans to meet requirements, Geobear’s concerns were that although we have charts showing the maximum exposure times (trigger times) for each tool (and we provide information and instruction to users), and although the tools we select have built-in vibration dampening measures, it has always been a challenge to ensure trigger times are adhered to and that accurate daily records are kept.

In 2017, we came across the Reactec Havwear system, it seemed to offer a very good solution to an on-going problem.

The Havwear system involves each tool operator wearing a wrist monitor, similar in size to a fitbit, which is programmed to match the tool and record the level of vibration exposure for each user. Plus, each monitor has a traffic light system that signals how close the user is to the Action Level (the level at which he has to stop and take a break), and how close he is to the Limit Value (the level at which the user has to stop operating the tool for the rest of the shift). This information can then be uploaded to a cloud-based management system, allowing managers to monitor daily, weekly, and monthly exposure levels for each employee.

Encouraged by this, Geobear started using the Havwear system in February 2018. Preliminary results are encouraging.

For example, we have been able to see that the amount of time spent drilling (trigger time) is not the only factor that contributes to vibration exposure. Ground conditions and age of the drill are also influences. We knew this already of course, but the beauty of the Havwear system is that we can actually see what a difference these make.

Hafthor Gudbjartsson, Senior Technician (Winchester), has been pioneering the Havwear trials with his team and is enthusiastic about the results. He comments,

“As a field operative, I find using the Havwear monitors both easy and informative. The monitors enable us to see the actual vibration exposure in real time. Moreover, it allows us to identify the tools with the highest level of vibration, as well as trends in their use over time. Overall, I believe the Havwear monitors are going to be good for us when planning drilling activities.”

Geobear is still at the preliminary stages, but the Havwear system has demonstrated its value so we plan to introduce it to all teams.

The HSE expects those who plan works where there is a risk of vibration exposure should manage it properly.

By enabling Geobear to keep accurate records, Havwear is not only a tool to control employees’ exposure, but also a way of demonstrating to clients we have effective monitoring arrangements in place.