Hand Arm Vibration

What you need to know?

Hand-Arm vibration is caused by the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause if many health issues, such as painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

When am I at risk to Hand-Arm Vibrations (HAVS)

You are at risk from HAVS if you regularly use hand-held power tools and machines such as:

  • Concrete Breakers.

  • Sanders, grinders, disc cutters.

  • Hammer Drills.

  • Chipping Hammers

  • Chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers.

  • Powered mowers.

  • Scabblers or needle guns.

You are also at risk if you hold onto workplaces which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery e.g. pedestal grinders. You are particularly at risk if you operate Hammer action tools for more than 15 a day, or some rotary and other action tools for more than one hour a day.

What are the symptoms?

There are a variety of symptoms which are caused by Hand Arm Vibration. Some of these symptoms are as follows:

  • Tingling and numb in the fingers (which can disturb sleep).

  • Not being able to feel things with your fingers.

  • Loss of strength in hands.

  • In Cold and wet, tips of fingers going white then red and being painful on recovery (vibration white finger).

If you continue to use high-vibration tools these symptoms will probably get worse, e.g.

  • The numbness in your hands could become permanent.

  • You will have difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails;

  • Vibration white finger could happen more regularly.

How do I protect myself?

It is your employer’s responsibility by law to protect you against HAVS and carpel tunnel syndrome. However, you can help by asking your employer if your job could be done in a different way without using vibrating tools and machines. If this cannot happen, you should try to ensure that you:

  • Ask for low-vibration tools.

  • Always use the right tool for the job.

  • Check tools before using them.

You can also ensure that you recognise the early signs and symptoms of HAVS, report any symptoms promptly to your employer, and use any control measures your employer may have put in place. Help your employer to stop HAVS and carpel tunnel syndrome before they become a problem for you.