Hand arm vibration syndrome was so widespread that the ‘Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005’ were introduced to protect workers. Despite this legislation the problem has not been completely eradicated and hand arm vibration claims are not uncommon.
Hand arm vibration syndrome is a debilitating condition that causes loss of dexterity due to numbness or pain, in addition to discolouration of the fingers. It is a condition commonly experienced by workers using power tools, such as pneumatic drills, mowers or chainsaws, for extended periods of time. Prolonged exposure to vibrations from power tools can cause damage to bones, muscles, joints and blood vessels.
Am I at risk?
If you work in a foundry, construction or heavy steel fabrication and use power tools on a daily basis, you are at risk of hand arm vibration syndrome. Early symptoms of the condition include cold fingers, a sensation of numbness or tingling and a whitening of skin on the hands. If you notice any of these symptoms you should seek medical advice as soon as possible and if you are diagnosed with hand arm syndrome Accident Advice Helpline is here to help process your claim.
Long-term exposure and hand arm vibration syndrome
Hand arm vibration syndrome isn’t a one-off injury, it is a series of small injuries to the blood vessels and nerves of the arm that build up over time from prolonged use of power tools. The trauma inflicted on your body can cause on-going discomfort or numbness that makes use of the hands for dexterous tasks difficult and leaves you in substantial pain. Early signs include loss of sensation or pins and needles in the hands.
Often starting in just the fingertips it spreads through the fingers and hand as the condition worsens. The next stage of the condition causes the blood vessels to contract, which results in numbness and a loss of colour. The fingers may feel cool to the touch and the hand will go into spasm; in some cases the hands may even begin to turn blue. Once the spasm passes blood rushes into the hand causing mild throbbing or pain and a red colouring.
If you see any of these signs it is important to seek medical advice in order to avoid more serious damage. You should also contact one of our advisors at Accident Advice Helpline who may be able to help you claim for the failure of your employer to comply with the 2005 legislation.
How to minimise the risk
In addition to the workplace regulations your employer is required to have in place, there are several ways to minimise the threat of hand arm vibration syndrome. Check that the tools you operate are functioning correctly and that you are using the correct tool for the job.
Faulty or incorrect tools can cause the job to require more effort and longer exposure than is necessary. Keeping your hands warm to avoid constricted blood flow, gripping tools as loosely as possible and taking regular breaks will all help to minimise the risk of the condition developing.