Long-term work with vibrating hand held tools may cause vibration damage, also called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). A Vibration damage is actually several different damages that may occur in single or in combination.
Hand-arm vibration damages are normally divided into three groups that provide different problems or symptoms:
- Neurological problems, giving numbness, pain, impaired sensation, and impaired fine motor skills.
- Circulation problems (vasospastic), known as white finger due to injuries in the thin blood vessels in the hand or the finger.
- Muscle-skeletal problems, giving particular reduced grip force and pain
The risk of getting damages increases with poor ergonomics, low work temperature (cold hands) or a stressful work environment. If you have similar problems as described above, you should do something immediately. Then we recommend the following steps:
- Contact your occupational health care and ask for a medical examination as soon as possible.
- Talk with your safety representative or employer and inform them that you have a problem that you suspect is due to vibrations.
- Ask your employer to review your workplace and try to find (and mitigate) the tasks that give you the (biggest) problems.
- If it appears that you have got a Vibration damage at your workplace, it is important to get it classified as a work related damage. Then you might get some compensation, but the regulations are different in each country.
Finally, your problems may not necessarily be a consequence of your use of vibrating tools at your work. There are many leisure activities that can cause the same problems, e.g. cycling, motorcycle driving, construction, automotive repair and more.