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Good vibrations shake up for local authorities

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Source: Materials Recycling Week

Local authorities will have to take steps to minimise the vibrations from vehicles such as refuse lorries to reduce the impact on the health of their staff because of a new European Union Directive, according to an industry expert.

From July 2010, a new EU Directive called the Control of Noise and Control of Vibration Regulations (2005), ‘Vibrating Directive’, comes into effect. It aims to protect staff from harmful vibrations from vehicles and plant machines and is devised to eradicate Whole Body Vibration which relates to vibration from industrial machines and vehicles. The directive will mean changes to council fleets and changes on operations and services and places requirements on employers to ensure that risks from WBV are eliminated or reduced to a minimum.

Millbrook  is a leading transport research and development facility. Business development manager Bruce Lornie told MRW that councils need to get ready for the new legislation now rather than later or face problems of “litigation claims” from employees.

He said that refuse operators who sit in trucks or drive them who are continually exposed to vibrations can be affected by WBV.

Lornie added: “It can affect those who drive over speed bumps, drains, potholes, those with poor suspension in their vehicles and those with bad driving seats. This can happen in transit or even when the engine is idling. In nearly all cases, the vibrations are either transmitted through the seat of the vehicle and into the body via the buttocks or through the foot well of the vehicle and into the body via the feet.”

With refuse drivers typically working for eight hour shifts on a daily basis Lornie said that WBV can increase the health risks to the spine, the neck and the shoulder. He said it can also give women gynaecological problems.

Millbrook has worked with 40 local authorities in the UK so far to carry risk assessments on vehicles and made recommendations. It is also working with the Health and Safety Executive.
The firm is able to offer a complete programme, from initial analysis to final reports to local authorities seeking a solution to WBV.

Lornie said simple solutions for WBV include changing old driver seats. He added that employee education will be a key tool to reducing WBV but that managers will need to take time to understand the directive.

“Councils need to be on the front foot, making sure they are ready to embrace the directive when it comes into force on 6 July 2010.”

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