Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is the medical term for symptoms caused by vibration damages that may occur in the fingers, hands and arms when working with vibrating tools or machinery. Vibration injuries are divided into three subgroups: neurological disorders, vascular and musculoskeletal.
- Damage to blood vessels, nerves, tendons ligaments, muscles and bones.
- Tingling, pins and needles, loss of feeling in the fingers, pain and throbbing in the fingers, loss of manual dexterity, painful joints and particular pain in cold and wet weather.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Irreversible damage causing permanent pain and loss of ability for the rest of lives.
- Unable to do up buttons, tie shoelaces, open a beer or undertake many simple everyday tasks.
- The symptoms may start as tingling in the hand, but will develop and worsen with continued exposure.
- For someone who smokes – this can limit blood circulation.
Health and safety points:
How do we know the trigger time limits for the tools we use?
- The vibration levels, max times and points per hour are recorded within the RAMS. Site Posters are available.
- If the tool is not listed, contact the supplier or your supervisor for the information.
- The times for each tool add up. When you reach the limit for one tool, you cannot use a different one.
- We are using the points system with 2 Action Levels:
- Exposure Action Value = 100 points. This is the limit we have implemented. It is not a target.
- Exposure Limit Value = 400 points. This is the legal limit. Company policy is we do not allow operatives to exceed 100 points.
What else can we do?
- Use an alternative such as a machine attachment, remote control compactor (rammax) or use jig.
- Use the most suitable tool for the job.
- Check the tools to their vibration levels.
- Maintain good blood flow through the hands and fingers by keeping them warm.
- Give up smoking; this will also reduce your risk of other occupation ill health, such as silicosis.
- Exercise hands regularly.
- Wear gloves to keep hands warm in cold conditions and when using tools.
- Report tools which produce high levels of vibration.
- Try to avoid long periods of using equipment without a break – short bursts are better
- Swap between tasks that involve vibration and those that don’t. Massage your hands and fingers, keep your hands warm in cold weather and make sure your protective gloves fit properly.
- Rotate task between trained operatives.
- Keep your tools and machines including consumables in good working order
- Should you experience the symptoms of HAV syndrome consult your supervisor and report it to HR.
- Keep a record of how long you use the tools for.