Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

The prolonged use of hand held power tools can be harmful and may lead to the development of a variety of painful and debilitating problems affecting the fingers, hands and arms.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a term used to describe the range of symptoms that can arise from exposure to vibration resulting from the regular and frequent use of air, electric, diesel and petrol-powered tools. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) can also be caused can be caused by  exposure to excessive levels of vibration.

There are numerous different types of hand held power tools that transmit vibration into the hands and may cause HAVS or CTS, including the following:

  • Concrete breakers
  • Concrete pokers
  • Angle grinders
  • Chain Saws
  • Cut off saws
  • Impact wrenches
  • Pneumatic drills
  • Jigsaws
  • Chipping hammers
  • Sanders
  • Scabblers
  • Bush cutters
  • Hedge trimmers

HAVS can arise in many types of employment and is not confined to one particular sector.  It is however common amongst workers in the following industries:

  • Construction
  • Heavy Engineering
  • Mining
  • Foundries
  • Shipbuilding
  • Demolition
  • Highways maintenance/repairs
  • Public Utilities
  • Joinery/Woodworking
  • Forestry
  • Vehicle maintenance/repair

Do you experience any of the following symptoms affecting your hands and/or fingers?

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Loss of strength
  • Weakened grip
  • Reduced sensation (not able to feel things properly)
  • Difficulty with tasks requiring fine dexterity (fastening buttons, tying shoelaces, handling screws, nails, coins)
  • Blanching (episodes of whiteness) triggered by cold, followed by pain and tingling when hands warm up
  • Fingers change colour from white to blue and bright red when your hands warm up

If you have used vibratory tools on a regular basis you may be suffering from hand arm vibration syndrome.

If you think that you could be suffering from HAVS you should seek medical advice at the earliest opportunity.  You should also report your symptoms to your employer.

If you believe the problems with your hands have been caused by your work, you may be entitled to compensation, even if you have not been diagnosed with a specific condition.