Innovative vibration safety monitors are being used to keep grounds staff, free from injuries at one of the UK’s most historic professional football clubs.
By installing and using the HAVmeter technology, Everton are investing in long term health benefits for their grounds maintenance team. This is part of an ongoing health & safety drive designed to prevent workers contracting Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) from the overuse of lawnmowers and vibrating tools.
The Premier League club has issued the meters to all of its grounds staff, in order to accurately gauge their daily exposure to vibration while using equipment such as mowers, strimmers and hand-operated blowers and to ensure that they do not exceed the levels stipulated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
The HAVmeter technology is already used by some of the biggest names in the UK construction, manufacturing and grounds maintenance sectors – including Tarmac, Aston Martin, Balfour Beattie, the Crown Estates and BAM Nuttall – to prevent vibration injuries among their workforces.
Richard Cairns, health & safety manager at Everton Football Club, said: "Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome is not just a problem for people using industrial power tools in the construction or manufacturing sectors – it can affect anyone who regularly uses other vibrating equipment including mowers and strimmers.
Everton is committed to keeping all of its staff safe and injury-free, so it’s vitally important that we are able to accurately record every member of the team’s exposure to vibration. We have dozens of lawnmowers that are in daily use at Goodison Park and our training complex at Finch Farm, so we have to have a monitoring system that is simple and effective.
"In the past we relied on timesheets and individual record-keeping to monitor vibration exposure, but the HAVmeter system is a far superior method of doing this. All of the information is collated by the devices and provides us with a comprehensive overview of how much exposure each member of staff is subjected to. If they reach the safe limit stipulated by the HSE, then they are alerted to the danger at once – meaning there is no chance of over-exposure.
"However, it is not just a good tool for preventing injuries. The system allows us to generate reports about the vibration levels of our equipment, so we can identify which machines need to be replaced or upgraded. It’s a very versatile piece of kit that will continue to be hugely beneficial to our groundskeeping operations in the future."
Everton Football Club is the first English Premiership football club to use the HAVmeter system, but Reactec Ltd – which manufactures the equipment – is hoping that the success at Goodison Park will encourage other top-flight teams to invest in the technology.
Jim O’Hagan, managing director at Reactec Ltd, said: "Many of the biggest names in the construction, grounds maintenance and manufacturing sectors already view HAVmeter as the best method of monitoring vibration exposure, so we are delighted to add Everton Football Club to our growing list of high-profile customers.
"HAVS is as much of a major issue for workers who maintain football grounds as it is for workers in other industries. Over-exposure to vibration can leave workers crippled for life and unable to do the simplest tasks with their hands, which is why it is vitally important to monitor these levels and keep workers safe.
"HAVmeters ensure that every employee knows how much vibration they have been exposed to at any given time, while also providing employers with a robust system that reduces risk from liability for any injuries. It’s the best option for any company that regularly uses vibrating equipment, and we hope that its success at Everton will lead to more Premier League clubs investing in the technology in the future."
The HAVmeter system is specifically designed to help prevent workers from contracting Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – otherwise known as Vibration White Finger – a crippling disease that is the biggest risk from working with vibrating power tools and equipment. The condition affects the functionality of blood vessels resulting in symptoms such as numbness or tingling of the fingers, loss of strength in the hands and the cold whitening of the fingertips.
The system provides every employee with a HAVmeter device that is programmed with their individual vibration exposure limits, which they attach to every tool that they use during their shift. The meters collate data about the amount of vibration that workers are exposed to and flash a warning when the limits are reached.