Hand-arm vibration at work – what is it and how can it be prevented?

Hand-arm syndrome at work – what is it and how can it be prevented?

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, often shortened to HAVS, comes from the use of hand-held power tools and can cause painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

You are most at risk of HAVS if you use handheld powered work equipment every day as part of your work. Vibrations from power tools travel up your hands and arms and over time can affect nerves, blood vessels, muscles and the joints of hands, wrists and arms. Nearly 2 million people in the UK are at risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome every day.

HAVS can be severely disabling if ignored so it’s important that the risks are reduced. The condition is preventable but once the damage is done it’s permanent. It is your employer’s responsibility to protect you against the condition but you can help by asking your employer if your job could be done in a different way without using vibrating tools or machines.

Sometimes this isn’t possible so you may wish to do the following:

  • ask to use suitable low vibration tools if possible
  • always use the right tool for each job
  • check tools before using them to make sure they have been properly maintained and repaired to avoid increased vibration caused by faults or general wear 
  • make sure cutting tools are kept sharp so that they remain efficient 
  • reduce the amount of time you use a tool in one go, by doing other jobs in between
  • avoid gripping or forcing a tool or machine more than you have to 
  • store tools so that they do not have very cold handles when next used 
  • encourage good blood circulation by: keeping warm and dry, e.g. wear warm waterproof clothing, giving up or cutting down on smoking, and massaging and exercising your fingers during work breaks; 
  • report any problems with your hands promptly to your employer or the person who does your health checks 
  • use any control measures your employer has put in place to reduce the risk of HAVS 
  • ask your trade union safety representative or employee representative for advice.

Under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations an employer must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration and protect your health. If they don’t do this then they have broken the law.

Claims Direct Personal Injury Lawyers deal with Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome compensation claims on a No Win No Fee basis.

For a free consultation call Claims Direct on freephone 0800 884 0321 or alternatively you can start an injury claim online and we will be happy to help you.