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Vibration Syndrome

Hand-Arm Vibration (HAV) occurs when constant vibration is transmitted to the hands and arms from an external source. Most commonly, this arises in workers who operate hand-held power tools and hand-guided equipment such as jackhammers, chainsaws, impact wrenches, etc.

This type of exposure can be a hazard to a worker’s health because it can result in disrupted circulation in the hand and arms. Long exposure to HAV may result in the whitening of fingers, which is usually triggered when workers are subjected to cold temperatures during work. This is due from the blood circulation to fingers temporarily being cut off due to the excessive motion.

HAV can also lead to damage to nerves, tendons, muscles and even bones of the hands, arms and shoulders.

Workers may be more familiar with HAV injuries based on the conditions that it creates collectively known as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). HAVS disorders can include commonly known disorders such as “carpal tunnel syndrome” and “tennis elbow.”

Vibration exposure can also weaken muscles and lead to pain in the arms and hands because the constant repetitive motion is an unnatural state for the body to be subjected to.

Hearing loss is also a surprising risk of HAV because most tools associated with this kind of syndrome project a substantial amount of noise. A worker who is subject to both HAV and loud noise may be more likely to suffer from hearing loss.

Prolonged exposure to HAV is usually required for any noticeable longer term effect to occur. However, there are other considerations to be made as well such as the characteristics of the tool being used.

A tool with a higher magnitude of acceleration of vibration may cause an onset of HAVS quicker than if the vibration were lower and minimal. The tool can also have a quicker negative effect if it has been poorly maintained or has minimal handle insulation and grip. If the hand is required to maintain a larger surface area on the tool, this can also affect how likely the onset of HAVS can occur.

The circumstances of the work can also affect how likely a worker may be subjected to HAVS. A job requiring a heavier tool or if the surface material of the area being worked on is a tougher surface, the amount of needed friction and manual control increases, which can lead to HAVS quicker.

What is a workplace’s responsibility towards its workers?

An employer has a duty of care to its employees to make sure that they are reasonably safe during their period of employment within the work area.

Inevitably, industrial workers and heavy construction workers, as well as any other position requiring heavy manual labour will be subject to some form of intense physical exertion. It is natural in these work environments for the shifts to be longer hours with constant exposure to external elements such as the weather, as well as potentially dangerous equipment and situations.

That being said, the nature of the job does not excuse an employer from the responsibility to reasonably protect their workers.

It is important for workers in these professions to have access to:

  • Regular rest breaks to recover from HAV conditions.
  • Proper safety equipment
  • Adequate training
  • Access to medical resources in the event of an accident

If an employer fails to provide this, they risk opening themselves up to legal liability under negligence.

East Coast Injury Lawyers know the laws surrounding HAV

If you have been injured in a workplace accident that has resulted in a hand arm vibration syndrome condition, then it is important that you find out your legal rights to compensation.

Fortunately, East Coast Injury Lawyers provides a no obligation, risk free initial consultation. Simply contact us at 1300 720 544 or fill out our case review form for quick access to an accredited specialist in personal injury who can advise you of your initial legal rights.

Strict time limitations apply for your claim so do not delay.

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