Innovation Event to Reduce Injury Risk Welcomed by HS2

Fusion’s Calvert Vegetation Team, in collaboration with its supply chain, took part in a successful event recently to further minimise the risk of hard arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) to colleagues. The HAVS Innovation Event was hosted by Practicality Brown, at its premises in Buckinghamshire and saw equipment suppliers, contractors and clients – supervisory, safety and occupational health disciplines – to discuss, witness and trial the latest chainsaw and HAVS technologies.

“We are undertaking a large amount of vegetation clearance across the region,” said John Ely, a Fusion Senior Project Manager. “Whilst the majority of this work will be carried out using mechanised plant equipment, there is still a requirement for operatives to use chainsaws for some operations.

Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health including painful disorders affecting the blood vessels, nerves and joints. HAVS is serious and disabling, and nearly 2 million people are at risk.  Damage from HAVS can include the inability to do fine work and cold can trigger painful finger blanching attacks.  HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent.

After a short introduction to the project and HAVS, the manufacturers talked through the latest innovations and took questions, some challenging, from the audience.

This was followed by a demonstration of the various different types and sizes of equipment available during which the vibration was measured by a representative from HAVi, a supplier which helps organisations control and manage hand-arm vibration, so that comparisons could be made.  Some of Practicality Brown’s existing chainsaws were also tested and monitored at the same time to see how they compared.

Representatives from leading manufacturers showcased a range of the latest chainsaws, brushcutters and hedge-trimmers, and HAVi demonstrated its vibration monitoring equipment which can be used to monitor exposure time of chainsaw operatives. This also generated a lot of discussion on the practicality of various vibration monitoring systems.

Main Findings:

  • Manufacturers Stihl and Husqvarna include battery powered models within their ranges and more are planned in the future.  At the moment these are predominantly limited to smaller models
  • The trails showed that when considered in isolation, battery powered chainsaws don’t show a significant reduction in vibration when compared to petrol powered models.
  • The most important contributing factors to reduce vibration when using chainsaws are;
    • ensuring that the teeth are kept sharp in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations
    • keeping the machine well maintained
    • reducing the hardness and moisture content of the wood being cut
  • When monitoring vibration caused by chainsaw use it is important to ensure that only the time during which the operative is using the chainsaw is measured.  Some of the remote monitoring systems can include the vibration caused when the chainsaw is ticking over whilst not in use.  This is not an issue with battery powered models.

The attendees included Brian Lynskey, HS2 Construction Manager, who said “It is really impressive to see Fusion taking an innovation challenge directly to the chainsaw manufacturing industry to reduce or even eliminating the need for user control measures associated with HAVS from chainsaw use.  A great way to raise awareness in the industry and especially within HS2. Well done!”

John Ely concluded: “I send special thanks to my colleague Sean Levy for organising the event and for Practicality Brown for hosting it – including laying on a good buffet lunch!”