Bad vibrations

The EEF has called for Members of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to reject proposals to limit the exposure of workers to mechanical vibration.

The Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) has called for Members of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to reject proposals which could cost up to £21 billion to introduce and threaten thousands of manufacturing jobs across the European Union.

The Physical Agents (Vibration) proposal seeks to limit the exposure of workers to mechanical vibration and would introduce limits of how far employees can be legally exposed to hand-arm and whole- body vibration.

However, whilst there is a general acceptance of the problems caused by Hand-arm vibration (HAV), there is controversy over whether the lower levels of Whole Body Vibration (WBV) has any harmful effect. The EEF claims that despite this, the EU looks set to accept a limit value (1.15 m/s2) which would criminalise everyday activities such as driving lorries and forklift trucks. According to the Health and Safety Executive this could cost £21 billion to implement in the UK alone.

‘Whilst industry welcomes appropriate controls to limit exposure of employees to HAV, the limit suggested by this legislation is simply not achievable by many companies and the action value is so low that many low-hazard jobs will be within scope,’ says Gary Booton Head of Health & Safety at the Engineering Employers’ Federation.

‘If the EU adopts this action and these limit values, we will be entering an era when we see community legislation placing requirements on business which are unlikely to improve employees health and safety and yet are enormously expensive. Employers need the EU to introduce more realistic community-wide legislation,’ he concludes.

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