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19 September 2006 PR 06/105

Major contractors set deadline for independent vibration testing at Loughborough University

A national organisation representing some of the UK’s largest construction companies has warned manufacturers that only hand-powered tools tested by Loughborough University will be used on their sites from January 2007.

The Major Contractors Group (MCG) wants to improve the management of hand-arm vibration health risks for construction workers.

It has been working with Loughborough University and the Off-Highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC), to engage suppliers in adopting HAVTEC (Hand Arm Vibration Test Centre) independent testing of hand-held power tools. The resulting data will provide user-friendly and dependable information about the likely risk to workers for each tool.

MCG have urged all manufacturers of power tools supplying MCG sites to submit their equipment for testing. Most major suppliers have participated in the exercise and now those few still to support the initiative have been advised that a deadline of January 2007 has been set.

Vaughan Burnand, Chief Executive of Shepherd Construction and Chairman of the MCG Health and Safety Working Group, said: “The MCG is fully committed to this initiative which will help remove much of the uncertainty vibration presents to construction contractors.

“The work being carried out by Dr David Edwards and Dr Neil Mansfield at Loughborough University, and OPERC, will help managers assess the effect of vibration on operatives. We are reminding manufacturers that if equipment does not have technical data listed on our independent tester’s website, we will use alternative suppliers who have supported this scheme.”

Dr Edwards, who is based in Loughborough University’s Department of Civil and Building Engineering, added: “The main focus of this initiative is to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers who use hand guided or hand held power tools. We should not forget that this is the most important consideration whilst simultaneously applauding the MCG for supporting the work.”

It is hoped that the application of a consistent benchmark for performance will accelerate the development of power tools that reduce the risks placed on construction workers.

ENDS

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Notes to editors

1. The Major Contractors Group (MCG) represents the UK’s largest construction companies. Its members carry out over £20 billion worth of construction work.

2. HAVTEC is the OPERC vibration testing facility. It provides independent assessment of the hand-arm vibration (HAV) exposure that an operator will be exposed to from the use of mechanical hand-held power tools. The results of the tests are recorded on the HAVTEC register, which is made available through the OPERC website. The testing is conducted by fully qualified experts in the field, using state-of-the art scientific measuring equipment. They work in close collaboration with several leading hand-held equipment manufacturers. All vibration tests are carried out under ‘real’ work conditions in full accordance with international standard ISO 5349 parts 1 and 2. The HAVTEC register may be accessed free of charge by any individual company, local authority, training provider or other similar body or organisation. Information within the register includes machine performance statistics such as:

3. For information on HAVTEC see the research section at http://www.operc.com

4. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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