Noise and hand-arm vibration – targeted processes from 2008/09

OM 2008/08


1  This Operational Minute outlines the programme of work on noise and hand-arm vibration (HAV) for 2008/09 onwards. This project targets particular processes presenting significant noise and/or HAV exposures, that are common across many sectors of industry. The current target processes, and the relevant industry sectors are set out in Appendix 1. This project model allows for flexibility in the management of inspection work including combining projects/activities based on local industry profiles.

2  The project consists of Programme Directed Inspections and national communication activities, focusing on securing the adoption of known control measures and strategies to reduce exposure to HAV and noise. This work contributes to the Noise & HAV Programme within the FIT3 Strategic Programme. The project draws on the guidance provided in the Topic Inspection Packs for both HAV and noise.

Aims and objectives

3  The aims of the project are to promote the adoption of established  solutions and strategies to control risks from HAV and noise.

4  The objectives of the project from 2008/09 are to:

  • secure the adoption of reasonably practicable measures to eliminate or reduce exposure to noise and HAV by technical or organisational means;
  • ensure duty holders properly manage risks from noise and vibration where significant exposures are unavoidable, through appropriate means. In the case of noise, selection and use of suitable hearing protection;
  • obtain intelligence to develop new and improve on existing control measures and strategies;
  • identify examples of good practice; and
  • generate publicity and awareness of available control measures and strategies via promotional events, partnerships and direct interventions.


5  Target processes presenting significant and avoidable noise and HAV exposure across a range of industry sectors are described in Appendix 1.

Programme directed inspection

6  Inspectors should direct their attention to noise and/or HAV whenever the target high-risk processes (listed in Appendix 1) are encountered, and exposures appear significant. The table (in Appendix 1) provides an indication of where the exposures raise a matter of evident concern. In these cases, the action required is control, not simply risk assessment. Interventions should focus on securing the adoption of measures to eliminate or reduce noise or vibration exposure by technical and/or organisational means. In the case of noise, reducing the reliance on personal hearing protection.

7  On encountering target high noise or vibration processes Inspectors should form a judgement as to whether:

  • in the case of noise the upper exposure action value (a daily personal exposure of 85 dB) is likely to be exceeded; and
  • in the case of HAV the exposure action value (a daily personal exposure of 2.5 m/s²) is likely to be exceeded.

8  Information in the Noise Topic Inspection Packs can be used to help in forming this judgement.  Alternative working methods and exposure reduction measures are found in the relevant 'good practice' appendices to the Topic Packs and should be used as the basis for an intervention.

9  The purpose of the intervention is to secure compliance with Regulations 6(1) and 6(2) of the Control of Noise (or Vibration, as appropriate) at Work Regulations 2005, ie to ensure that exposures and risks are as low as reasonably practicable. The Topic Inspection Packs outline the application of the Enforcement Management Model to noise and HAV, and describe Initial Enforcement Expectations, as well as providing sample notices.

10  In addition to securing the adoption of reasonably practicable controls, inspectors should deal with other matters surrounding the management of noise or vibration risks where exposures are unavoidable. This includes:

  • selection of work equipment;
  • selection and use of suitable hearing protection;
  • information, instruction and training; and
  • health surveillance.

The relevant Topic Inspection Packs provide further guidance.

11  Where inspection leads to issues beyond the target processes listed in Appendix 1.  Inspectors may choose to consult the detailed guidance in the Topic Inspection Packs.  If matters appear to become complex Inspectors may wish to consult their local N&V Specialist Inspector.

Noise and vibration advocates

12  This project is undertaken with the assistance of Noise and HAV Control project 'advocates'. These are FOD Inspectors who provide a locally based link between the FOD inspection activities and the project team. The existing advocates are invited to continue their support for the project. It is intended that advocates will liaise with Inspectors to facilitate the follow up by Noise and Vibration Specialists, HSL, Occupational Health Inspectors (OHIs) or Corporate Medical Unit as appropriate, on examples of:

  • good practice;
  • cooperative duty holders who may be willing to assist in the development of control measures;
  • high risk activities for which there are apparently no reasonably practicable control measures;
  • high risk activities which still result in exposures above the exposure limit value when all reasonably practicable controls have been applied; and
  • issues with the availability or quality of health surveillance.

13  An important aspect of the project is that Inspectors provide intelligence to the Project Team to facilitate further work on noise and HAV and to broaden HSE's understanding of what may be reasonably practicable for control of noise and vibration.

Inspector briefings

14  Divisional, local office or individual group briefings will be offered to FOD Inspectors who are likely to encounter the target processes. These briefings will be provided by the project managers, with the assistance of the N&V Specialist Inspectors and advocates as appropriate. The briefings will contain a resumé of the regulations, and describe the approach to this inspection project. The intention of these briefings is to increase inspectors' confidence in tackling the 'control' aspects of the regulations.

Health surveillance

15  Inspectors should refer to OHIs where duty holders report difficulty in securing suitable health surveillance. Also where the quality of health surveillance provided, the feedback and/ or use of the results of health surveillance give cause for concern.

16  OHIs will be continuing proactive work on both noise and hand-arm vibration syndrome health surveillance, including inspection of duty holder compliance. Liaison between N&V advocates and local OHIs is therefore important.

Stakeholder events, SHADS and other HSAO activities

17  There will be direct communication and engagement with relevant industries, by the project team to provide practical advice to duty holders and industry bodies on controlling risks from noise and vibration. This will include case studies highlighting good practice control strategies and appropriate health surveillance programmes. Where opportunities arise this may include HSAO organised free seminars (SHAD-type events), particularly targeted at SMEs. N&V specialist support, (speakers and presentation material), can be made available where Divisions propose to hold SHADs or similar events.

Work recording

18  Inspections are to be recorded on COIN, according to current practice. Inspectors are requested to make reference to the N&V Control project in their recording.

Further information

19  This project is being managed by the Science & Technology Group, CSD4 Noise & Vibration. If you wish to contact the project managers they are:

  • Bruce Appleton, CSD4, Lord Cullen House, Fraser Place, Aberdeen AB25 3BU.
  • Tim Ward, CSD4, Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Liverpool L20 7HS.

For further reading material please see:.

Appendix 1 - Target high risk processes for noise and hand-arm vibration from 2008/09

1  The target processes from 2008/09 are activities presenting significant and avoidable noise and/or vibration exposure in manufacturing and other industries. The processes are grouped according to activity, and the relevant sectors are noted. The processes fall in to four main process groups.

2  Guidance on established good practice in control of risks and exposures from these processes (and closely related processes) is provided in the relevant 'good practice' appendices of the Noise and HAV Topic Inspection Packs (Noise – Appendix E ,).

Table 1 Summary of target processes

Process Group Includes HAV Exposure Noise Exposure Example Industry Sectors
Grinding and finishing Grinding MVR , steel fabrication, engineering service industries, foundries
Orbital sanding
Use of impactive hand held air tools for surface preparation Air chiselling Steel fabrication, engineering, maintenance, foundries, construction
Needle gunning
Surface scabbling
Sawing and processing wood, uPVC and plastics Band resawing   Woodworking, uPVC window and furniture manufacture, plastics
Circular saws (crosscutting, ripping wood, chop- or mitre-sawing )  
(Multi-) spindle moulding  
Granulators (size reduction machines)  
Breaking, compacting and moulding Use of breakers Construction, building and highways maintenance, Concrete products
Use of combi-hammers
Use of sand rammers
Mould filling (vibrating tables)  

Noise and vibration exposure key:

● – High likelihood of exposure to noise and/or HAV risk
○ – Possible risk of exposure to noise and/or HAV risk

3  Inspectors dealing with services, local authorities and construction will encounter some of these processes, as well as Inspectors dealing with manufacturing.

Existing control project guidance

4  The guidance from the first two years of the N&V Control project remains in place. The web guidance on good practice HAV controls is still being used by duty holders. The 2007/8 target processes for noise in the plastics, woodworking and concrete products industries are still encountered widely, and there is little excuse for not applying the good practice controls identified.

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Updated 2022-11-08