hand arm vibrationHand Arm Vibration or HAV is a collective name for two main conditions: vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Vibration white finger cases are numbered around 600 a year and the number of cases has decreased over the last decade.  Out of the 7520 new claims in the last ten years, only 25 were female.

With carpal tunnel syndrome, there were 260 new claims in 2015 and the number of claims has reduced over the last decade.  In the last ten years, there were 3860 cases and only 350 were female.

You can get hand-arm vibration from using power tools and machines.  You may have felt the effects of vibration when you have cut the lawn at home and after you’ve finished, your arms may be a little bit tingly or you have less feeling in your arm. This is just from short-term exposure. Short-term exposure to a little bit of vibration is generally not a major concern and is something that we can all cope with.

The problem is when you are starting to be exposed to long-term vibration.  This can cause other problems within the body and can cause illnesses, discomfort and days off work. You need to wear protective equipment or anti-vibration systems may need to be installed. The sort of protection you use is thick gloves to absorb vibration or using power tools with foam grips.

There are lots of different ways of controlling vibration and this will vary depending on the workplace and the jobs being carried out.

It is estimated that around about 5 million people are potentially at risk from hand, arm vibration in the UK, so every employer needs to take this seriously and if you think you are at risk, talk to your manager and see what can be done about reducing the vibration.

Finally, you can suffer from whole body vibration.  An example of this could be someone operating a digger and the vibration is transferred through your whole body.  There are figures produced by the HSE on the maximum exposure someone can be exposed to. You can find more information on the HSE website – http://www.hse.gov.uk

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