An overview of hand-arm vibration syndrome

| Nov 11, 2015 | Firm News, Workers' Compensation

Tennessee construction workers using vibrating tools such as jackhammers might be familiar with a prolonged sensation of vibration even after the tools are put away. However, hand-arm vibration syndrome is a more serious issue that could occur because of the use of such tools. Unfortunately, the condition can be difficult to identify and may take between six months and six years to manifest.

HAVS was first identified in quarry workers in 1918. Nearly 90 percent of the workers at an Indiana limestone quarry experienced blanching, a loss of color in their fingers. They also experienced problems with numbness in their hands in connection with their use of air hammers. Additional symptoms of the condition can include pain, tingling, and a weakened grip. Gangrene is rare but can occur in severe instances of HAVS. Experts estimate that at least half of U.S. workers who are at risk of HAVS actually develop the condition. However, numerous cases may be missed due to the similarities between HAVS and carpal tunnel syndrome.

In labor-intensive industries such as construction and manufacturing, this may be the most common neuromuscular condition. Those who work frequently with power tools are most at risk for the disorder, especially those working in cold climate conditions. It is important for workers in these situations to use a light grip, keep their hands warm, and monitor the maintenance of the tools used. Additionally, it is important to rest at least 10 minutes of every hour.

Because symptoms of HAVS can take so long to become evident, seeking workers’ compensation benefits could be complicated. In some cases, an affected individual may no longer work in the relevant industry when such a condition surfaces. In other cases, the worker may have retired. Legal assistance with the preparation and filing of a claim may be advisable under such circumstances.

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