What is hand-arm vibration syndrome?
If you work in construction or deal with power tools and heavy machinery on a daily basis, you no doubt experience vibration exposure from time to time, if not every day. But continuous vibration exposure can have an adverse effect on your health if you aren’t careful.
Types of vibration injuries
One of the most common types of vibration-related injuries is hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). HAVS occurs after prolonged use of hand-held vibrating machinery such as drills, jack hammers or other power tools.
Over time, heavy vibration can cause long-lasting — and sometimes permanent — damage to the nerves, muscles and blood vessels in your arms and hands. You may experience blanching in your fingertips, as well as numbness, tingling and loss of strength in the affected areas.
In high-vibration exposure cases, you may even experience whole body vibration, which can affect your spine and neck.
You might not initially think that an arm or hand injury like HAVS can have a significant impact on your daily life. However, without the proper care, HAVS can be debilitating. You may not realize how much you need your hands and arms until you can no longer use them in the way that you used to.
Luckily, using vibrating machines or tools every day doesn’t mean you’re doomed to injury. There are preventative measures you can take to help prevent HAVS from affecting your life, including:
- Keeping your hands and fingers warm
- Having a light grip on your power tool
- Wearing protective gloves
- Taking frequent breaks
- Maintaining your tools so they don’t vibrate more than necessary
- Refreshing yourself on training related to vibrating tools
Protect yourself and your rights
Not only can HAVS make daily life more challenging, it can also keep you from doing your job. That’s why it’s crucial to do all that you can to prevent it from affecting you.
If, however, you find yourself experiencing symptoms of HAVS or any other vibration-related injury, don’t hesitate to seek help. You may be able to pursue benefits and recover any lost wages.