Roberts Jackson’s Tips on Treatment and Prevention of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is the medical term for symptoms caused by the excessive use of vibratory hand-held or hand guided power tools and machines. The excessive use of vibratory tools can cause damage to the nerves, blood vessels and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. So who is at risk of contracting Hand-arm vibration syndrome?
Vibration injuries are usually split into three categories:
Symptoms usually are tingling and/or numbness in the hands and fingers. As the symptoms get worse, sufferers can lose feeling in their hands and fingers which prevents them to complete easy task which they were able to before.
Symptoms usually affect the small blood vessels in the hand and fingers where blood flow circulation is restricted. This causes blanching and numbness in the fingers and arms.
Symptoms may be in the form of arthritis, tendonitis and changes in muscle fibre. Sufferers may notice reduced mobility and pain in their hand and arms.
This condition has affected many people around the UK, many of whom are workers who have used vibratory power tools or machines in their careers. A few of them have shared their experiences of living with the condition on the HSE website. A recent quote from a mechanic’s technician suffering from Hand-arm vibration syndrome said “HAVS has affected my day-to-day living. I have a loss of manual dexterity and find it very difficult to use my fingers, in particular my thumbs, coupled with loss of feeling and sensations in various sections of my hands.”
Whereas a heavy fabrication technician said “I have difficulties picking up things, small things, pushing buttons. I drop things more and don’t know the amount of pressure I’m putting on finger and thumb”.
And finally a shipbuilder said “I play darts, can’t do that anymore, I can’t do freshwater fishing, can’t feel the lines, fine lines between the fingers, can’t feel them at all. Can’t pick up small screws, DIY, quite a few things I can’t do a lot of now. I can’t turn over the pages in a paper, you have to wet your fingers all the time because you can’t feel the paper between the fingers”.
So how can you prevent Hand-arm vibration syndrome? Well first and foremost employers have a duty of care to protect their staff from suffering from Hand-arm vibration syndrome. If symptoms do start to occur then make sure to report this to your employer so they can review the amount of time you are operating the tools or prevent from using the tools which have given you the symptoms altogether.
Other things you could do are:
- Ensure you have been provided with suitable PPE.
- Ask your employer if you can use suitable low vibration tools.
- Make sure to always use the right tool for the task you’re required to complete.
- Before using the tools, make sure to give them a look over to ensure they have been properly looked after and maintained.
- Take little breaks here and there when doing a task to ensure you are not using a tool for a long period of time in one go. It would also be beneficial if on your breaks you massage or exercise your fingers, this will help with blood circulation and bring back feeling into your fingers.
- If and when you can, wear gloves, a hat or waterproof clothing to keep yourselves warm. By doing so this should help with blood circulation.
Roberts Jackson Solicitors are experts in dealing with hand-arm vibration syndrome cases with a team of solicitors and fee earners, who have a vast amount of experience. We provide a No Win No Fee service and you will not have to contribute to any of the costs of the case unless we are successful (any fees incurred are deducted from the compensation award).
If you would like more information or want to discuss your claim in more detail you can call us on 0800 001 446 or alternatively fill in the call back box found on the right hand side of the page and one of our advisors will call you back at a convenient time for you.