Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) can occur as a result of using specific types of equipment or machinery at work.
One of the most likely culprits generally is hand-held or hand-guided power tools. Misuse or overuse of such equipment can lead to severe health problems that can be disabling and painful. These include serious disorders affecting joints, nerves and blood vessels.
Up to 2 million people in UK workplaces may be exposed to disabling health problems as a result of vibrations transmitted through work processes and tools! It’s important to be aware that HAVS is entirely preventable, although its effects can be permanent, and responsible employers will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and welfare of their workforce.
Health problems associated with HAVS
It is an employer’s responsibility to be mindful of their employees’ risk levels when scheduling work. Employers are also required to be vigilant about dealing promptly with any health issues that arise. Incorrect use of power tools can rob an individual of their normal abilities. Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to two forms of permanent ill health known as: hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Symptoms and effects of CTS can also occur and include: tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand which can interfere with work and everyday tasks and might affect the ability to do work safely. Symptoms of both may come and go, but with continued exposure to vibration they may become prolonged or permanent and cause pain, distress and sleep disturbance. This can happen after only a few months of exposure, but in most cases it will happen over a few years.