20th July, 2021
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations impose an exposure value for vibration at work that you must be aware of, the Exposure Action Value (EAV). Where an employee is exposed to vibration levels over and above this value, you should look for ways to control vibration.
In a recent post, we looked at how to calculate vibration exposure to the ELV. The Exposure Limit Value (ELV) is an important value that must not be exceeded. It's the law. But this isn't the only value you need to know about when measuring vibration exposure.
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations has another exposure value for vibration at work that you must be aware of, the Exposure Action Value (EAV). Where an employee is exposed to vibration levels over and above this value, you should look for ways to control vibration. This could be done through elimination or reduction of exposure, or exposure for shorter periods.
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations set an exposure action value (EAV) of 2.5m/s²A(8).
But how do we calculate when the EAV is reached?
Well, the EAV (2.5) is half the ELV (5), so would be reached in the half the time, right? Wrong! It's not that simple to work out the EAV. But you can follow a similar principle to the steps we followed in the previous blog post to calculate the ELV, to calculate the EAV.
Or you can cheat and use our free havs calculator (we won't tell anyone!).
Before we go into how to calculate the exposure action value (EAV), let's take a moment to discuss what the EAV means. It's not a limit, like the higher exposure limit value (ELV). Unlike the ELV, you can exceed the EAV. So why do you need to know about it?
Well, because you need to take ACTION. The EAV is an action value. Any vibration exposure over this value increased the risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Actions could include:
Your duties are to reduce the risks from vibration to the lowest level reasonably practicable and to reduce exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable if it is above the EAV.
For exposure above the EAV, you should also provide health surveillance to look for signs and symptoms of HAVS.
Before you can take action, you need to know when the EAV is reached. And before you can calculate exposure levels, you need to know the vibration output of your tools and equipment. You can get this information from several sources:
We already covered some of the ways you can find out vibration output in our post how to calculate vibration exposure to the ELV. And you can check out that post for more information (under the section 'Finding out vibration levels'). Once you have the vibration output for your tasks or activities, you can calculate the EAV.
We will be using a points-based system, as this is the easiest way to calculate exposure once we take into account that operatives may be using various vibrating tools throughout a day.
If you read the post on calculating the ELV, you may remember that under our points-based system, we were allowed 400 points a day to reach the ELV (the limit value - this is the maximum exposure).
Even though the EAV at 2.5m/s²A(8) is half the ELV at 5m/s²A(8), you are only allowed a quarter of the points before you reach the EAV. We are allowed 100 points a day before we reach the action value.
If you are wondering why you don't get 200 points, since the EAV is half the value of the ELV, this is all to do with how points are calculated, and how vibration exposure is measured. You will see an example of this below in the increase between a 5m/s² tool and a 10m/s² tool.
The exposure action trigger in a day in our points-based system is 100 points - which equals the EAV of 2.5m/s²A(8). This means that once you have used 100 points, you must take action to control vibration and reduce the risks.
Now, we need to give each tool a number of points per hour. This is how many points you use up for each hour on the tool.
(Output x Output) x 2 = Points
We multiply the vibration value by itself (Output x Output) and then double it. Ok, let's look at a 5m/s² tool.
(5 x 5) x 2 = 50
So that's 50 points per hour when using our 5m/s² tool.
We know we only have 100 points per day before we reach the EAV, so if we divide our 100 points by the points per hour, this tells us how long we can use the tool for.
100 / 50 = 2
2 hours. Once this time is up, you have reached the EAV, and you need to take action. Your legal duties are to reduce the risks from vibration to the lowest level reasonably practicable and to reduce exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable if it is above the EAV.
Let's look at another example, this time with a higher vibration output. Let's look at a tool with an output of 10m/s².
(10 x 10) x 2 = 200
That's 200 points per hour when using our 10m/s² tool. Note how the vibration output has doubled, but the points per hour have actually quadrupled.
Now we divide our 100 points by the points per hour, this tells us how long we can use the tool for.
100 / 200 = 0.5
0.5 hours (half an hour / 30 minutes). Once this time is up, you have reached the EAV, and you need to take action.
Remember, there is another limit (the Exposure Limit Value or ELV), which must not be exceeded... we talk about calculating the ELV value here.
This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.
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