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Damage caused by vibrating power tools

The severe effects of hand-arm vibration syndrome are visible in the whitening of this man’s fingertips.

The severe effects of hand-arm vibration syndrome are visible in the whitening of this man's fingertips.

Specialist work often comes with its own unique risks and resulting health conditions. Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and vibration related carpal tunnel syndrome are usually caused by using hand-held power tools and hand fed and guided machinery. HAVS can cause significant ill health, including painful disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and hands and finger joints. In severe cases, HAVS can lead to loss of hand movement and sufferers can experience severe pain if they get cold, making everyday tasks such as gardening or washing the car very difficult. Numbness and the inability to manipulate small objects can make getting dressed difficult too. Approximately two million workers are believed to be exposed to the effects of vibration, one million at a level which may harm them. By law, employers must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure so that employees’ health is not damaged.

Updated: 2012-10-30