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Major Hire Companies Group (MHCG)

Major Hire Companies Collaborate with Loughborough University (02/11/06)

A new industry body called the Major Hire Companies Group (MHCG) has been launched, after a Loughborough University academic called upon the hire industry to work together to help solve the growing problem of hand-arm vibration syndrome. Members of the MHCG include A-Plant, Brandon Tool Hire, GAP, Hewden, Hire Station, HSS, Martin Plant Hire and Speedy Hire, whilst several additional equipment hire and lease companies have also expressed a desire to join in this health and safety initiative. It is not the aim of the MHCG to compete with other trade associations, or detract in any way from the good work undertaken by other industry working groups, but to make a positive contribution to the ongoing work.

Mr Mick Norton, current Off-highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC) President and Spokesperson for MHCG commented: "The MHCG will work towards creating a safer system of work for its customers. The first step is to establish a standard system for measuring an operator's exposure to hand-arm vibration, when operating hand-held or hand-guided power tools. The system must be easy to both apply and manage for anyone within the supply chain, whether they are manufacturers, hire companies or end-users."

He continued: "The Group will not, however, focus solely upon analysis and standards. Training guidance and other resources are equally important and once produced should be freely available for all since the protection of people is the driving force behind this initiative. All hire companies will be able to share in the results and findings once guidance is published - the Group will be an inclusive forum."

Dr David Edwards, from the Department of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University, who was instrumental in pulling the MHCG together said: "Research work can sometimes lack real impact from a practical perspective and so it is most encouraging to witness industry actively working in partnership with Loughborough University in this way, on a real-life scientific problem. This is an issue that can best be resolved through such an industrial-academic partnership and reflects Loughborough University's historically strong track record for tackling these types of issue."

Dr Edwards continued: "We have a great opportunity here to make a real difference to the health, safety and welfare of thousands of manual workers; so understandably, this is a very exciting and much welcomed development in the Department's research in this field".

During its first meeting in early October of this year, MHCG members agreed that all equipment manufacturers should have their tools independently tested and that such data should be made readily available to industry, free of charge. Moreover, the MHCG agreed to share any information or best practice documentation produced by the group to any interested party. A new guidance document has been commissioned and will be produced in collaboration between the MHCG, the Off-Highway Plant and Equipment Research Centre (OPERC) and Loughborough University.

An offer has been made to host meetings of the MHCG at the University. Future challenges include to: tackle complex issues relating to hand-arm vibration training and education; optimize the publication of vibration data; maximize dissemination of vibration research findings throughout the hire industry; and apply the use of innovative technologies to mitigate the risks associated with using power tools.