Best Practice

LOCATION: Marine & ship to shore ARTICLE YEAR 2017
ACTIVITY: Occupational Health COMPANY: Tarmac Marine Ltd
BEST PRACTICE No: BP1995 COMPANY TEL: 07986 755517
Working safely with vibrating tools


If unmanaged, exposure to vibrating tools can cause hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) which is a serious and permanent disabling condition. Tarmac Marine set up a project to develop a new standard to manage all exposure from vibrating tools.

Tarmac’s policy is to permit no more than 100 exposure points per person per day. The methodology used for recording

and calculating the exposure points varied for each site, from completing simple paper forms in the workshop, to populating basic excel spreadsheets and printing them out for each activity or week. Colour coded tags are located on every tool informing users of its vibration magnitude which is required for the calculations used to determine how many exposure points were used.

The management team and site operatives were consulted and identified that a standardised solution was required for all marine sites, including all company vessels and wharves. The new solution was developed to incorporate several functions into one easy to use tool, providing additional information to both the onsite user and their managers that would be available anywhere at any time.

The functionality of the new system is detailed below:

On-site user interface for operatives

Users can access the new tool from a tablet or a desktop. Before a job, the operative users the 'Maximum remaining daily use checker', to determine their maximum trigger time using the relevant tool, based on their current daily exposure level. Following completion of the job, the user would then input the data into the records section.

The data is input on a tablet by simply typing in the date, selecting the tool from a drop-down list of all onsite tools, entering the trigger time, the risk assessment reference number and optional details about the activity. The system instantly calculates the number of exposure points for that activity, updating the user’s daily total, and remaining points for the period.

Activities can be recorded or updated regardless of whether the tablet is online or offline as the data will be synchronized with the master database as soon as there is a signal. If there is no signal, users can access their most up-to-date record and calculate trigger time remaining.

If an individual exceeds the daily limit, the database instantly sends a copy of the workbook in an email to the site management team stating that the user has exceeded the daily limit. This is designed to discourage users from changing exposure times and to provoke a conversation even if there is simply a typo during data entry.

User interface for managers and supervisors

When managers log on to the system the first screen that they see is the user dashboard. This provides an instant default view of the weekly exposure points used by all of their site employees.

The dashboard highlights anyone who is approaching, reached or exceeded their daily limit. Whilst the default view is of the current week, it can also be changed to show any other week of the year.

A new user can be added but requires an administrator password and confirmation that the operative has received the relevant Tarmac HAVS training.

Another report provides a monthly overview of the exposure activity for the selected user highlighting days where activity was approaching, or had reached or exceeded their daily limit. The manager can add a comment on each individual activity; query the data if it looks suspicious; delete an activities exposure points from the list if it has been entered on the wrong page, but never delete the full activity, providing a full audit trail. The manager’s comments are visible to the users when they log on.

The HAVS database also includes the sites tool register. This includes details of all the sites tools and their associated details. Tools can only be added if all the required information is known. As soon as a tool has been input into the tool register, it becomes available for all users to select on the form.


  • A standardised tool which can be used on multiple platforms
  • Available to all employees anywhere on-site
  • System is user friendly and an improved method for operatives managing their HAVs exposure
  • Provides operatives early warning if approaching limit
  • Encourages employee behaviour to take responsibility for HAVs related action
  • Managers can see their teams individual scores and take corrective action.
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