HAVS: the nature and reality of the problem

22 September 2011


Stances and attitudes to the perceived hazards of hand mining vary greatly throughout the tunneling industry. Although, as in much of tunnelling, there are many possible dangers such as inadequate support, trips and falls, none has caused as much controversy as hard-arm vibration syndrome, or HAVS for short. Alex Conacher interviewed some of those involved to check on current opinion


At the end of event season, whichever corner you turn to, the opinion of the industry is that there are too many trade shows, too close together and in the case of some with too little advance notice.

This is not the first time these whispers have been heard. The European 'big three' of Bauma, Intermat and Samoter, in an effort to avoid a clash of calendars and a division of delegates, agreed some years ago to a three-year cycle in which they share the spoils of construction one-upmanship in an orderly queue.

And it works. Each year there is one essential show that gets any self-respecting marketing bod hot under the collar. These events are well attended and give a good opportunity for networking, roping in business and the chance for us all to gossip like hairdressers.

Enter the summer maelstrom of tunnelling-specific events. RETC, the largest and considered the most successful is on a biennial loop with NAT. Add WTC, which in a bid to corner the academic elements, packed nearly 2,000 pages worth of technical presentations into two and a half days this year. The result was a disappointing time limit of 10-15 minutes per speaker. A seemingly endless stream of one off or one day shows from events companies previously disinterested in tunnelling have tried to steal a share of the market. And further crowding came from the return of the BTS's Underground Construction show.

The established shows are still pulling in the crowds, albeit with a few raised eyebrows. Perhaps now is not the time to launch new, separate conferences and exhibitions. Perhaps now we need a period of putting together of heads to clean up our diaries and focus on what is best for the industry.


UK government transport secretary Philip Hammond cuts the ceremonial ribbon to open at least half of the country's longest land-locked road tunnel UK government transport secretary Philip Hammond cuts the ceremonial ribbon to open at least half of the country's longest land-locked road tunnel