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Device monitors workers’ exposure to vibration to prevent ‘white finger’

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reactecAround 2 million UK workers are at risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), carpal tunnel syndrome or ‘vibration white finger’ as a result of exposure to vibration from power tools.

Reactec is a leader in providing solutions to combat noise and vibration in the workplace. It worked with CoreRFID to create the HAVmeter to monitor workers’ exposure to vibration and reduce the impact of industrial disease. The project involved overcoming the problems of deploying RFID in environments which challenged reception and transmission because of vibration, magnetic fields, electrical interference, moisture and temperature changes.

“The design and supply service provided by CoreRFID has helped to ensure the success of the HAVmeter system, in spite of the demanding environments this technology is being used in.”
– Tim Kent, Commercial Director, Reactec

HAVmeter helps workers to reduce risk

Vibration from power tools can cause irreversible damage to nerves, blood vessels, muscles and bones but its effects are preventable. Employers are obliged to ensure that workers are not exposed to limits greater than those laid down in the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 monitored by the HSE.

The HAVmeter system uses tags attached to tools, which carry data about the make and model, a unique tool number and an average tool vibration value. Each day, workers collect a HAVmeter, a portable device, signing it out with a personal swipe card that carries details of their allowed levels of vibration.

The HAVmeter is attached magnetically to any tool they use. Tool tags are coded red, yellow or green to give a visual warning of the vibration caused by a particular tool. The HAVmeter records workers’ vibration exposure by collecting data from the tool tags, storing details of tools used and the time that the tool was operated for. It displays their total vibration dosage, helping workers to manage their own exposure.

The HAVmeter detects the actual levels of vibration experienced with its on-board accelerometers. At the end of the day the HAVmeter is returned to its docking station to be recharged. The data is uploaded and analysed by software to show the vibration experienced by each operator, converting the time the tool was used for and the vibration level into a points score using the HSE system.

Custom tag overcomes reception problems

Reactec noise & vibration monitoring tag
The Havmeter tags developed for Reactec attach magnetically.

The software can track if a particular tool is emitting higher levels of vibration than expected, pointing to a need for maintenance. It can also show the times that tools are run for, highlighting the need for changes in working practices or for staff training.

CoreRFID worked closely with Reactec on the design and development of the system. The work involved the development of a custom tag with a larger than standard antenna in order to cope with the specialised transmission and reception problems found when the HAVmeter is magnetically attached to a tag on a vibrating, electrical tool. CoreRFID sourced and arranged production of the custom tag ready for embedding in the Reactec housing.

CoreRFID also created the software that writes data to the tags. This saves space as the tags have limited data capacity. CoreRFID provided all the hardware components needed for the RFID tags used by the HAVmeter system.

Reactec selected CoreRFID as its technology partner for the project because of its ability to meet Reactec’s price targets for their tool tags, its record in successful RFID implementations and its ability to provide a custom solution to meet the demands of the HAVmeter operational environment.