If you work with power tools of any variety, the chances are you have experienced some degree of hand-arm vibrations. While limited exposure to these vibrations is unlikely to cause any lasting damage, over exposure can lead to hand-arm syndrome (HAVS) or carpal tunnel syndrome.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that 2 million people are at risk of developing HAVS.
What is HAVS?
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome or Vibration White Finger Claims is a debilitating condition that damages the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints of the hands, wrists and arms. Those that operate hand-held or hand-guided power on a regular basis are significantly increasing their be at risk of developing the condition. HAVS or Vibration white finger are both permanent and highly debilitating.
Early Symptoms include:
- Loss of feeling in the fingers
- Tingling and numbness in the fingers
- Loss of strength in your hands
- Tips of your fingers going white, then red and painful.
If you continue to use high-vibration tools these symptoms may get worse, for example:
- Permanent numbness in hands leading to a complete loss of feeling
- Inability to pick up small objects such as screw or nails
- The vibration white finger could happen more frequently and affect more of your fingers
For a more detailed breakdown of symptoms, the HSE have produced an employee guide to hand-arm vibration.
Who is at risk of developing HAVS?
You are at risk from HAVS or Vibration White Finger if you use hand held or guided tools such as:
- Concrete breakers
- Hammer drills
- Chipping hammers
- Hedge trimmers
- Powered mowers
How can I reduce the risks?
Ultimately it is your employer’s responsibility to protect you against HAVS or Vibration White Finger, but you should remain vigilant and be conscious of the early symptoms. If it is possible try to find a way in which you can do your without using vibrating tools and machines. If this is not an option happen then:
- Use suitable low-vibration tools.
- Ensure tools are properly maintained and repaired to avoid increased levels of vibration
- Take regular breaks from using vibrating
- Avoid gripping or forcing a tool more than required
- Store tools so the handles are not cold when in use
- Keep warm and encourage good circulation
- Wear anti-vibration gloves
Asons Solicitors suggest that if someone would like to learn more about the HAVS or Vibration White Finger, or if they would like to better understand the HAVS and Vibration White Finger claims process that information is available at www.asons.co.uk, or via an expert helpline on 01204 521 133. Sent to us by Thomas Fairclough.
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