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The successful management of hand-arm vibration: interactive CD-ROM package

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    The successful management of hand-arm vibration: interactive CD-ROM package. Edited by: health and safety executive. (Disks 2; £95 +VAT) 2000. Sudbury, Suffolk, UK: Health and Safety Executive. ISBN 0 7176 1713 0

    As someone who managed, by chance, to miss the preview of the Health and Safety Executive's CD-ROM package on hand-arm vibration syndrome (HA VS) at several meetings, this two disk product came as a pleasant surprise. Much useful material is presented on the clinical features of HA VS, on the risks arising from various categories of vibratory tools, on the ingredients of a health surveillance programme, and on practical tips for mitigating risk—including the selection of equipment, the redesign of work processes, and risk minimisation by job rotation and training. There is also a helpful legal section, and many video clips citing practical solutions from British industry and interviews with patients and their occupational physicians. The second disk, in particular, will be of value to safety officers and occupational physicians who wish to make a presentation on this topic to managers and employees. The first disk, which draws on the same material, is designed to be more interactive and to provide more reference material. This is based largely on two existing HSE documents(Hand-arm Vibration 1 andVibration Solutions 2), but is richer in illustrative material and more visually appealing. The first disk also contains an excellent exposure calculator which simplifies the process of deriving and summing partial exposure values when tools are used in combination and obviates the need for the nomogram by which this was formerly calculated (also illustrated on the disk, but in a rather frenetic fashion). In another excellent dialog box when individual tools are highlighted this results in the corresponding recommended “safe” use times being instantly displayed. The emphasis is on British standards of exposure assessment.

    Some of the dialog boxes can be saved into a word processing package for later use, but many other useful lists cannot. A model questionnaire can also be downloaded, although the version which I saved and later retrieved was technically inadequate for use. I experienced a few other technical difficulties, including a few sound glitches; surprisingly, the quality of the video images was better on the second disk than the first, even when viewing identical passages; and I was frustrated by my inability to skip the introduction on a second viewing (although I am assured that this should be possible). I have a few other minor concerns: in particular, the picture illustrating blanched fingers was disappointing (I have better examples in my own slide library); and occasionally I found myself questioning the evidential basis of statements (for example, that the risk of HAVS can be reduced by taking sensible precautions, among which “eating properly” and “taking regular exercises” were listed). However, these few caveats do not detract from an otherwise excellent product. Generally, I found a wealth of accurate, comprehensive, and useful information on these disks. Are they worth the cover price of £95+VAT? Many employers and occupational health departments will think so, given the escalating costs of compensation and the inherent complexities of assessing and controlling risks from this common occupational hazard.