Reducing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) Risks with Starrett



What is HAVS?

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is an occupational debilitating disease commonly known as Vibration White Finger (VWF) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Both Occupational Diseases are reportable under the RIDDOR 2013 regulations Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences RIDDOR (hse.gov.uk). The diseases are caused by prolonged exposure to vibrating tools and machinery. This condition can lead to numbness, tingling, and loss of strength in the fingers, hands, and arms, making it difficult for those affected to perform even the most basic tasks.

To help prevent HAVS and protect workers from its effects, it is essential to regularly test for vibration levels on tools and machinery. This is where HAVS testing comes in.

HAVS testing is a process that involves measuring the amount of vibration exposure a worker receives while using a specific tool or machine. This information can then be used to determine if the vibration levels are within safe limits, or if they need to be reduced to protect the worker’s health. This involves attaching a vibration sensor to the power tool or operator’s hand or arm to measure the vibration levels they are exposed to while using a specific tool or machine.

Once the vibration levels have been measured, the results can be entered into the HSE HAVS calculator Hand arm vibration – Exposure Calculator (hse.gov.uk), which will offer up both exposure action and limit values, to determine if any action needs to be taken. This may include implementing vibration-reducing measures, such as providing regular breaks, replacing outdated machinery, and evaluating accessories being used.

It is important to note that HAVS testing is not a one-time event but should be done regularly. This is because vibration exposure can vary depending on the duration of use and the specific tasks being performed.

What are the laws surrounding HAVs in the UK?

Employers are responsible for assessing and controlling vibration exposure to protect the health of their workers, and the law requires employers to conduct regular HAV testing, take appropriate actions to reduce vibration exposure, and provide workers with information and training about the risks and control measures.

The law surrounding HAV testing, or Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV) testing, is primarily governed by the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 (CoVAWR) in the United Kingdom, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations in the United States.

In the UK, the CoVAWR requires employers to:

  • Assess the risks to workers from vibration exposure

  • Take action to reduce vibration exposure to as low as reasonably practicable

  • Provide information and training to workers on the risks and control measures

  • Monitor the health of workers who are at risk from vibration exposure

  • Keep records of vibration exposure levels and health surveillance

It is important to note that these regulations may vary depending on the country and region. Employers should check their specific regulations and guidelines to ensure they follow HAV testing laws.

It is estimated that HAVS affects around 2 million workers in the UK, and it is a leading cause of work-related ill health. HAVS can cause significant pain, discomfort, and loss of dexterity, making it difficult for those affected to perform their duties. It can also lead to long-term disability and even permanent loss of function in the affected hand(s) or arm(s).


It’s not only the machine itself that influences the high vibration levels!

Power tool accessories such as hole saws, jigsaws, and reciprocating saws can greatly influence the results of the HAVS test. This is because these accessories are designed to drill/cut a wide variety of materials and subsequently produce varying levels of vibration when in use, which can have a significant impact on the hands and arms of the person using the tool. Depending on the particular application and the accessory that is in use, the vibration levels can vary considerably, hence the need for close monitoring to reduce the risk to employees suffering from HAVS

What is Starrett doing to help?

Searching for new or alternative work methods and products that can help eliminate or reduce exposure to vibrations is the most effective way to control exposure to hand-arm vibration.

Independent testing has shown that Starrett Power Tool Accessories lower real-time exposure to HAVS, lowering risks for both employees and employers. Trials with Starrett products at large end users have shown that not only can the vibration levels be reduced but the cut times are shorter as the products remain sharper for longer, cutting faster, which reduces the trigger time for the operator and enhance productivity.

You can request the Starrett Test results by contacting our Technical Team:

(UK) Graham Munro: gmunro@starrett.co.uk

(EU) Stuart Haig: SMHaig@starrett.co.uk

To assist you in lowering the risk of HAVS exposure, let Starrett and our distributor network choose the appropriate power tool accessories to ensure the most efficient use of time and reductions in vibrations, and give your staff the product training required to ensure the tools are operated safely and effectively.

Give Starrett a call to arrange a site visit:

Tel.: 01835 866205 / email: sawsupport@starrett.co.uk


Allan Linton – CMIOSH / OSHCR Consultant – www.avsafetyservices.co.uk

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is the UK’s national regulator for workplace health and safety.

British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF).

The University of Warwick and Loughborough University.

Note: It is important to note that these are estimates and the exact number may vary depending on the specific industry and occupation.