Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted into workers’ hands and arms. This can come from use of hand-held power tools (such as grinders or road breakers), hand-guided equipment (such as powered lawnmowers or pedestrian controlled floor saws) or by holding materials being worked by hand-fed machines (such as pedestal grinders or forge hammers).
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Why is hand-arm vibration an issue?
Regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration can lead to two forms of permanent ill health known as: hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS); and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
Symptoms and effects of HAVS include:
- tingling and numbness in the fingers which can result in an inability to do fine work (for example, assembling small components) or everyday tasks (for example, fastening buttons)
- loss of strength in the hands which might affect the ability to do work safely
- the fingers going white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery, reducing ability to work in cold or damp conditions, e.g. outdoors.
Symptoms and effects of CTS can also occur and include: tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the hand which can interfere with work and everyday tasks and might affect the ability to do work safely. Symptoms of both may come and go, but with continued exposure to vibration they may become prolonged or permanent and cause pain, distress and sleep disturbance. This can happen after only a few months of exposure, but in most cases it will happen over a few years.