Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is caused when the tissues in your hands and arms are injured by vibrations from an external source, such as a power tool or a piece of vibrating machinery. According to the Health and Safety Executive, around 2 million people in the UK are at risk of developing the condition.
Over time vibrations can injure the blood vessels, nerves and muscles in the fingers, hands or arms, resulting in episodes in which there will be a loss of sensation or weakness in the fingers or hands. Sometimes the digits will turn white – which is why the condition is often referred to as Vibration White Finger.
The impact of the vibrations will vary from person to person and the frequency at which you are exposed. As a general rule, however, any damage caused by the vibrations will be permanent.
HAVS is most commonly caused by working with:
- hand-held power tools, such as a pneumatic drill
- equipment that has to be hand-guided, such as a circular saw
- materials that have to be hand-fed into a machine, such as a pedestal grinder
Reducing the incidence of HAVS
The Guidance to The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 shows that there are a number of ways that employers and managers can reduce the incidence of HAVS in their workforces. These include the following:
- Introduce ways to eliminate or reduce exposure
- Introduce ergonomically designed work equipment
- Provide auxiliary equipment
- Ensure suitable maintenance of tools and machinery
- Ergonomically design workplaces
- Provide workers with training and information
- Provide adequate rest periods
- Reduce exposure to cold and damp
Claim compensation for HAVS
Employers are required by law to do all they can to prevent their employees from having to use hazardously vibrating tools or machinery. When this is impossible, employees must reduce the risk of their employees developing HAVS to as low a level as possible.
If you have been diagnosed with HAVS and believe that the condition is attributable to working practices within your current or former workplace, call us on 0800 0891331 for information regarding your possible right to compensation.