Hand vibration syndrome, or commonly known as HAVS, is a disorder that affects the hands and forearms, it is caused by prolonged exposure to vibrating tools. HAVS is a widely recognized workplace injury that can lead to significant long-term medical problems for employees.
According to the National Association of Safety Professionals, around two million workers in the United States are exposed to hand-arm vibration, and half of the workers that are exposed will later develop this debilitating disorder. The organization also emphasizes that practicing certain safety measures can prevent the disorder.
Causes of HAVS
Vibrating tools are used across a variety of different industries, and those who use these tools should be aware of the hazards. The tools that cause HAVS include scabblers, power jigsaws, angle grinders, needle guns, asphalt brakers, pneumatic drills, sanders, polishers, compactors, chipping tools, jackhammers, and riveters. These tools can send strong vibrations into the worker’s hands, arms, and even down the entire length of the body. Experts agree that any type of vibration tool can produce hand-arm vibration, and prolonged exposure increases the risk of getting HAVS.
Hand-arm vibration can lead to serious vascular injuries; the vibration reduces blood flow and damages the capillaries. It can also affect the muscle structure, which can eventually reduce grip strength. Physical damages and neurological damages are often irreversible.
The initial symptoms of HAVS are tingling sensations and numb fingers. Fingers can also turn white and become swollen when they are cold. After fingers are warm, they can become red and painful. The loss of nerve sensation and grip strength is also common.
This weakness and loss of feeling in the fingers can make it quite difficult to pick up small objects, like nails and pins. Increased numbness, tingling or pain in the fingers, hands, wrists, and arms can also affect the ability to perform daily functions. Wet and cold weather can further aggravate the condition.
Experts offer several recommendations to protect workers from developing HAVS:
- Companies can switch to tools that have lower vibration.
- Companies can reduce the employee’s exposure by incorporating time limits on vibrating tools.
- Employees should grip tools as lightly as possible; tight grips increase vibration coupling.
- Employees should keep their hands warm and appropriately use hand gloves.
- Equipment should be properly maintained, and workers should be trained on using the tools.
Experts explain that not all workers will develop this syndrome. But for some workers, it can develop within months or years. If the syndrome occurs, it is irreversible. The best advice is to practice safety measures while operating these tools.
New Brunswick Construction Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Employees Injured in Construction Accidents
If you have HAVS or suffer from other workplace injuries, you may be eligible for compensation. Our Brunswick construction accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr will fight for you to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 877-249-4600 for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we also serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Perth Amboy, and Franklin Township.