Power tools

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) explained and statistics

  • 24 Mar 2016

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HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome) is a medical term for symptoms caused by vibration damages.

The condition can occur in the finger, hands and arms and is particularly common in people who operate vibrating tools such as grinders, sanders and disc cutters.

HAVS causes changes in sensory perception, resulting in numbness, muscle weakness and in extreme cases, White Finger.

Symptoms of HAVS

Initial symptoms of HAVS include changes in sensation in nerve endings. This can be followed by Raynaud’s phenomenon – this is caused by changes in the blood vessels which results in White Finger, as well as muscular aches and pains.

White FingerIn severe conditions, HAVS suffers may experience loss of hand movement and extreme pain in cold weather.

According to the NHS, people who use the following tools can experience White Finger: grinders, sander disc cutters, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, power mowers and hammer drills.

It is the responsibility of the employer to protect workers from vibration afflicted White Finger. If a worker does have the condition, then the employer must contact the Heath and Safety Executive about the condition, who will then investigate whether the employee is eligible for an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome statistics

According to the Health and Safety at Work Act, there were 610 new claims of Vibration White Finger (VWF) in 2014, compared to 580 in 2014 and 635 in 2012. The number of claims has declined over a ten year period. Of the 10,180 new claims in the past 12 years, only 35 were female.

There were 220 new claims for carpal tunnel syndrome in 2014 compared to 265 and 295 in 2013 and 2012. Again, the number of claims have declined over the last decade. Of the 5,980 new claims in the last 12 years, 570 were female. 

How to prevent HAVS

According to patient HAVS can be prevented by:

  • Ensuring tools are well maintained.
  • Holding tools as loosely as possible, in varying positions.
  • Using tools correctly, and utilising the right tools for the job at hand. 
  • Taking regular breaks away from the tool – every ten minutes if possible.
  • Keeping warm – especially your hands.
  • Avoiding smoking – chemicals in tobacco can affect your blood flow.

Does it get better?

If you continue to work with vibrating tools after encountering HAVS symptoms then the condition may persist even when you do stop working.

Employers seeking high quality, safe power tools can contact CNS Power Tools, who work with leading brands within the industry to ensure employees are kept safe at work.

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