AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Vibration White Finger changed to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) as there are other symptoms which may occur in addition to white fingers.  HAVS is minor but repetitive injury to the small nerves and blood vessels in the fingers, which can cause white finger syndrome, numbness and aches and pains which is prompted by cold conditions.

Vibration White Finger was added to the list of prescribed diseases in 1985 on the recommendation of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) and is a result of many years use of vibrating tools.  HAVS is preventable but once the damage is done, it is permanent.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome : Who is most at risk?

The people most at risk are workers who regularly use hand-held or hand-guided power tools and machines such as concrete breakers and concrete pokers.  Sanders, grinders and disc cutters.  Hammer drills, chipping hammers, chainsaws, brush cutters and hedge-trimmers.  Powered mowers, scabblers (a tool used in the process of reducing stone in masonry work) or needle guns.  Those at an even greater risk are operators of hammer drills for more than 15 minutes per day and operators of some rotary and action tools for more than one hour per day.

What are the signs and symptoms of HAVS?

Tingling and numbness in the fingers which can often lead to sleep deprivation.  Lack of feeling in fingers.  Loss of strength in your hands, or the loss of ability to pick things up or hold heavy objects.  When it is cold and wet, the tips of your fingers turn white then red and being painful on recovery (the main symptoms of vibration white finger).

What happens if the use of the power tools continues?

The symptoms will probably get worse and the numbness in the hands could become permanent, affecting the things a workman could take for granted such as picking nails, screws and other small objects up.  In some cases, turning the pages of a newspaper is difficult, and one former shipbuilder described that he has had to stop fishing because he couldn’t feel the fine lines between his fingers due to the effects HAVS has had on his life and leisure. If employed by someone they could look for industrial disease compensation.

Is there any protection available to avoid Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Ultimately, it is the employers’ responsibility to protect their employees from HAVS and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (a similar condition) but asking if the job can be done in a different way using different tools may reduce the risk.  If this cannot be done, always use the right tool for the job which should result in the job being completed quicker therefore reducing exposure to vibration.  Make sure the tools have been maintained and are in good working condition.  Cutting tools need to be sharp.

Reduce the amount of time the power tool is being used in the one go and try to do other tasks in between.  Ensure tools are not stored in extra cold areas so the next time they are used the handles aren’t unnecessarily cold.  Try to increase blood flow by keeping warm and using warm clothes.  Cut back or stop smoking, as smoking reduces blood flow.  When on a break, massage and exercise your fingers.

About the author: Jonathan Fieldstead is a writer and a content marketer amd has traveled around the globe. He is also into technology and the latest sports.


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