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Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Today, we are going to talk a little about commonly used terminology that you may come across, and some simple health and safety actions that you can take as an employer.

HAVS - What does this mean?

HAVS stands for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is caused when vibration is transmitted into your hands and arms when using handheld / operated tools and machinery. Excessive exposure can affect the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints of the hand.

What work equipment causes HAVS?

HAVS can affect workers who use power tools and cutting equipment such as for examples;

· Angle grinders

· Rotary polishers

· Garden strimmer's

· Tree chainsaws

· Power drills

· Impact wrenches.

What is Vibration White Finger (VWF)?

Vibration White Finger is a disease that affects thousands of workers. Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to permanent health effects.

This is a condition caused by damage to the circulatory system in the hands and fingers as a result of contact with vibrating tools. The symptoms are;

  • Tingling.

  • Numbness, not being able to feel things properly.

  • Loss of strength in the hands.

  • Whitening appearance to the fingers.

The fingers affected may become painful, red and throbbing as the circulation returns.

Can the level of risk be reduced?

Yes, as an employer you can take the following actions.

Firstly, you should carry out an assessment. The assessment should:

  • Identify where there might be a risk from vibration and who is likely to be affected

  • Contain a reasonable estimate of employees' exposures

  • Identify what needs to be done to comply with the law, e.g. whether vibration control measures are needed and, if so, where and what type

  • Identify any employees who need to be provided with health surveillance and whether any are at particular risk.

Next, you should take the following steps to reduce the risk;

  • Use an alternative method of work that reduces vibration.

  • Consider purchasing hand tools that are vibration reduced.

  • Keep hand tools in a good state of repair, i.e. regularly serviced and maintained.

  • Keep consumables in balance, i.e. providing training to eliminate bad tool use.

  • Encourage employees to report early symptoms.

John recommends that if you are in any doubt regarding your legal obligations, then please do feel free to give us a call for an informal chat by telephoning (01827) 488021.

Written by: John Carver

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