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Device helps tackle disease

Vibration monitor tested by East Coast rail workers

ReactecVibration monitors produced by Scottish firm Reactec is being trialled by rail workers on the East Coast Main Line.

The Rail Electrification Alliance (REAL), which is delivering Network Rail’s £237million power upgrade, has installed the Havwear monitoring system  on all high powered tools across the project.

Reactec says its monitors help to combat the incurable disease Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) – one of the most common industrial diseases in the UK.

The condition is usually caused by the prolonged use of power hand tools, whose vibrations can damage the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm.

The unique system is worn by the tool user and features a wrist monitor, which is synchronised to a special tag on the piece of equipment to be used. If the vibrations from the equipment exceed guidelines set by the Health and Safety Executive, the wrist monitor emits a visible and audible warning for the operator to stop work.

With the support of the Reactec analytics platform software, the system also provides constant monitoring with automated reporting, to enable effective risk reduction. It is the only practical way to continuously measure actual vibration exposure and eliminates the current practice of estimating workers’ risk levels.

Jacqui McLaughlin, chief executive of Reactec, said: “The HAVS condition is incurable so it’s essential that employers do everything they can to prevent this debilitating condition in their workforce.”

Ian Kilgour, head of safety for the REAL Alliance said: “The continued safety of our workforce is at the heart of all that we do. As such, we are always keen to explore, and where appropriate, adopt new systems to help deliver this objective.”

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3 Comments to Vibration monitor tested by East Coast rail workers

  1. Gez Gilbert says:

    I was at a seminar at the Health and Safety Event at the NEC on 23 March 2016, where Dr Chris Nelson BSc (Hons) PhD MIOA was speaking.
    His presentation covered the duties of employers under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, explaining the core requirement to reduce exposure and risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level, and the place of vibration measurement, conducted in accordance with BS EN ISO 5349-1:2001.

    Although the Reactec system sounds good on paper the bottom line is that it does not comply with ISO 5349.

    Reactec says that its system can measure from the wrist. According to the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations compliant measurement must be taken on the tool or vibrating equipment with accelerometers firmly attached to the tool with cable ties in accordance with 6.1.4.1 of 5349 Part 2.

    Under the regulation the accelerometer must be mounted on the equipment where vibration enters the hand or hands. It does not say you can measure from the fingers, hand, wrist.

  2. Terry Murden, Editor says:

    Editor adds following comment received from Reactec in response to Mr Gilbert:

    EU and UK regulation states that employers have a responsibility to make a risk assessment of their employees’ exposure to vibration. The level of exposure to mechanical vibration may be assessed by means of observation of specific working practices and reference to relevant information on the probable magnitude of the vibration corresponding to the equipment or the types of equipment used in the particular conditions of use.

    Measuring the vibration of the tool itself is covered by an ISO standard but is not a practical way of measuring during use, as the measurement is intrusive to tool use. Reactec has developed a new method that measures the actual vibration experienced by the tool user, rather than the vibration of the tool itself, which can be carried out while the tool is in use and hence more realistically determine the probable magnitude during use. This is completely within the terms of the EU directive and Reactec believes it is more relevant to measure the actual vibration experienced by the tool user.

    Reactec has never claimed to use this ISO standard for HAVWEAR.

    • Gez Gilbert says:

      That’s exactly it Reacted have never stated that it uses the ISO standard, but that’s what you have to be to measure actual vibration. If they would have said indicator, not actual, then no one would be making a fuss. Companies are buying into a system, because of claims that Reactec are making and Reactec are not really telling the customer the truth. As my boss has said it’s like me driving down the motorway at 100 mph and being pulled over by the police and I tell them, no ” I was using my own speedo because that said I was doing 70mph.”

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