Working with heavy and vibrating machinery can lead to life-long damage to hands and arms, if preventive measures are not taken. If you or your employees are working with heavy and vibrating machinery, then it is highly recommended to carry out an Hand Arm Vibration risk assessment and an occupational health assessment.
HAVS is an abbreviation for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome that harms the ability to feel sensation in your hands and arms which leads to permanent numbness and tingling in fingers, muscles and joints. In many cases, it also causes bouts of white finger. If you have already developed the syndrome, taking precautions will stop further damage.
In this blog post, we are talking about HAVS:
What is Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?
When an employee is over exposed to a vibrating tool/ machine, the symptoms in fingers, hands and arms include numbness, tingling, red spots and white fingers.
What Are The Causes Of Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome?
HAVS develops over a period of time , if you have over exposure of hand-held vibrating tools like power drills, chainsaws and pneumatic drills As you deal with vibrating tools, it could potentially have a serious effect on your hands and arms, slowly and gradually which leads to major harm in the long run due to small nerves and blood vessels in the fingers.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?
As HAVS develops over a period of time, you will see symptoms which become more noticeable with time. In the initial stage, nerves get affected resulting in varied sensation which further results in changes in blood vessels leading to white finger. Furthermore, these changes lead to muscular aches and pains.
Here Is Detailed Information About The Symptoms Of Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome –
Nerve Symptoms :
The early stage of HAVS symptoms includes numbness, tingling in one or more fingers. First it affects the tips of the fingers and then starts covering the whole fingers. With severity, it becomes almost impossible to do fine tasks like holding something with your fingers or handling screws, nails, coins, threads etcetera. Many times it affects all of the fingers while sometimes it harms one or two fingers mildly.
White Finger Symptoms –
White finger symptoms are also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon. White finger symptoms are triggered by extreme cold weather or touching a cold object. While dealing with a heavy and vibrating machine, fingers turn white then blue and then red.
Aches And Pains –
As your symptoms become severe, your muscles, joints and bones start aching along with pain in the hands and lower arm. Moreover, it also weakens your hand grip.
How HAVS Symptoms Progress?
As discussed above, it starts with frequent numbness and tingling in your hands followed by white fingers even in summer times. As the symptoms develop further, numbness becomes permanent leading to muscle weakness and wasting.
Some times, HAVS symptoms develop months and years later when you stop working with vibrating tools.
Can HAVS Be Prevented?
HAVS can be prevented to some extent in the early stages by following some steps. Following some steps help prevent HAVS in workers who use vibrating tools: (A risk assessment of the process is very important)
Avoiding overuse of the tools/machinery is key to prevent HAVS, have a plan is plan in place via your risk assessment.
→ Holding tools loosely and in varying positions,
→ Ensuring tools are up to the standards and well-maintained,
→ Using appropriate tools for the job,
→ Take frequent breaks from your tool,
→ Keep your hand warm while working,
→ Stop smoking as the chemicals in tobacco affect blood flow.
What Steps Needs To Be Taken If I HAVS Symptoms –
If you think that you have HAVS symptoms, it is time to visit an occupational doctor and let your employer know about your concerns and ask for a safe and healthy working environment.
How To Treat Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?
Here Are Some Ways To Treat Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome –
Minimize The Use Of Vibrating Tools –
Minimized use of powered tools prevents symptoms from getting worse. Consider changing a job or make an agreement with your employer about restricted hours of machine use.
Say NO To Medications That Makes Interrupts Blood Circulation-
Avoid medications that include beta-blockers. are generally used for high blood pressure and heart pressure. Plus, avoid decongestants as they contain adrenaline that prevents circulation in your hands.
No Smoking –
Smoking harms your overall health and it also furr up the arteries that pump blood to your fingers.
Does HAVS Get Better Ever?
If treated in the early stage, it can get better. However, if symptoms are severe already, it’s hard to reverse them.
Get the best HAVS Assessment For Your Business
Orbis Environmental and Safety is one of the most well-known and reliable Health and Safety Consultants in the U.K.
Employers are responsible for the health of their employees as employees are valuable assets for any business. Health and safety risk assessments are a way of ensuring that employees are fulfilling their obligations to their employees by minimizing the risks to their health.
It is advisable for employers to choose a competent health and safety service provider and to ensure that assessments are carried out aligning with the latest laws and regulations of health and safety standards.
Whether you are a big business or a small one, we have bespoke solutions for your health and safety.
At Orbis Environmental, we make sure that you have an appropriate assessment for your business and premises.
To have information on HAVS assessment for your business, you can simply fill in a contact us form, and one of our experts will be in touch with you soon.