An innovative safety device created by a Scottish technology firm has received national acclaim after scooping successes in the UK’s leading health and safety awards.
The HAVmeter, a device created by Edinburgh-based Reactec that monitors exposure to hand arm vibration levels, has been recognised in the Occupational Health Awards and the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) Awards.
The technology – used by some of the biggest names in the UK’s construction and utilities industries – helps reduce injuries and ailments associated with the excessive use of industrial power tools.
The HAVmeter has now helped Severn Trent Water win the NJUG Safety Award for the water giant’s ongoing drive to reduce hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) among its street works teams.
James Clutterbuck, director of WHC Hire Services – which provides Severn Trent Water with all of its vibrating construction equipment – said that the innovative devices were key to the firm’s ongoing safety commitments.
He said: “There are a lot of devices on the market that claim to reduce injury and monitor the vibration levels that workers are exposed to, but none of them are anywhere near as good as the HAVmeter. It is miles ahead of the rest of its competitors.
“In the past, you would have to physically write down how long you had spent using a vibrating power tool in order to work out when you were approaching the safe limits for the day. It wasn’t a precise method at all, and was open to error – which meant that the risks of people contracting HAVS were still high.
“The beauty of the HAVmeter is that it’s easy to use and it precisely monitors the vibration levels that you’re exposed to. It uses accurate data tailored to each user and, if you get to your limit, the device flashes and you’re done – which greatly reduces the chance of injury and any resulting litigation from workers.
“The meters form a big part of our ongoing safety drive with Severn Trent Water and we’re delighted that this has now been rewarded with an NJUG Safety Award.”
The HAVmeters have also been used in an ongoing safety initiative by Aston Martin to prevent HAVS among its staff – which led to the automotive firm being shortlisted for the Risk Management and Prevention of Ill Health prize at the Occupational Health Awards.
Jim O’Hagan, from Reactec, said: “To be highlighted by two of the UK’s biggest health and safety awards is a great testament to the success of our HAVmeters.
“It’s a tool that is fast becoming the industry standard for monitoring hand arm vibration levels, and the companies that use the meters are being rightly seen as the pioneers of health and safety in their fields.
“Severn Trent Water and their contractor WHC Hire Services have been using HAVmeters for some time now and these are proving instrumental in helping their street works teams reduce the chances of developing HAVS. The fact that this forward-thinking approach has just won them one of the top prizes at the NJUG Awards is a great testament to the success of the technology.
“The meters have also been responsible for Aston Martin being shortlisted for another major UK health and safety award, and this is further recognition of how our devices are keeping industrial power tool workers safe across the country.”
The HAVmeter is a small, easy to use device that resembles a standard pager and is used to monitor exposure to Hand Arm Vibration among workers using hand-held tools. The technology measures and records the trigger time and vibration levels and ensures machinery operators do not exceed the recommended levels stipulated by the Health & Safety Executive.
By using the HAVmeter technology, workers are able to minimise exposure to hand arm vibration syndrome – one of the biggest risks associated with using hand held vibrating power tools. More commonly known as Vibration White Finger, the disease affects the functionality of blood vessels resulting in symptoms such as numbness or tingling of the fingers, loss of strength in the hands and the cold whitening of the fingertips.
The symptoms worsen over time, often becoming permanent. If no action is taken to prevent further vibration exposure, sufferers can experience severe pain, resulting in an inability to work in cold or damp conditions or even carry out simple everyday tasks, such as holding a glass.
Reactec is the UK leader in providing vibration analysis and validation for the design stage of new and next-generation technology products, and offers a range of services from expert consultancy to full project implementation.