Hand-tool Vibration Monitor Improves Health and Safety of Construction Workers
Prompted by the release of the Control of Vibrations at Work Regulations 2005, our student start-up company Reactec developed an instrument for measuring and thus preventing hand arm vibration (HAV) syndrome. 288,000 UK construction workers were estimated to have contracted vibration white finger and 170,000 had claimed compensation by 2011! Reactec’s vibration measuring technology initially focussed on optimisation of sweeping for curlers [1, 2], contributing to team GB winning the 2002 Winter Olympic Gold medal.
Reactec HAVmeter sales between 2008 and 2013 have exceeded £9M, which corresponds to an estimated 15,000 HAVmeters for 45,000 users. Reactec now employs 23 people with a turnover of ~£2.5M p.a., securing a place in the Deloitte FAST 50 UK Awards for the second consecutive year, as one of only 5 included Scottish companies.
Key to the HAVmeter's success has been the automated approach to report generation and accurate monitoring to protect workers' exposure. "Before the HAVmeter, we relied on manual input, with a guy basically using his memory at the end of the day for the time that he has spent using vibratory tools. With the HAVmeter, we have an accurate, user friendly piece of kit which allows us to manage HAV more easily. It really is a Health and Safety Management tool." Roads Manager, AMEY North Lanarkshire.
HAVmeter monitoring has now been adopted as standard policy in Balfour Beatty, Tarmac, Morrison Construction, Environment Agency, Aston Martin, Amey, Carillion etc., who all use hand held power tools. "Paper based systems never really worked, the HAVmeter replaced that system with the latest technology which allows us to accurately measure and monitor our employees’ exposure to HAVs…After rolling it out we are seeing a positive result from the workforce who like the system and think it is easy to use. It’s very difficult to quantify what sort of amount of exposure an individual has had - the HAVmeter provides the perfect solution". National Contracting Director, Tarmac.
"I couldn’t believe the HAVmeter could survive those conditions. When we saw it slip into a flooded cavity, we thought we’d never see it again. However, when we found it two months later, we just took it out, wiped it down, and carried on using it." Site Foreman, Interlink M74 Project.
Further information on Reactec is available at: http://www.reactec.com.
 Buckingham, M.P., Marmo, B.A. and Blackford, J.R., "Design and use of an instrumented curling brush", Proceedings Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part L: J. Materials Design and Applications, Vol. 220, Issue L4, pp. 199-205, 2006. DOI:10.1243/14644207JMDA70.
 Marmo, B.A., Blackford, J.R. and Jeffree, C.E., “Wear surfaces and friction maps from kinetic friction on ice surfaces”, Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 51, No.174, pp. 391-398, 2005. DOI:10.3189/172756505781829304.