16 Aug 16
Five Ways to Fight Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
Whether you’re jackhammering as part of your job or just to rescue your buried Phil Rizzuto keychain, continued exposure to vibrating tools and equipment can result in a serious condition that can have lasting impact.
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a permanent and irreversible medical condition in which fingers, hands, and arms lose feeling and/or have continual tremors based on the aftereffects of frequent and prolonged operation of vibrating tools or machinery. Extreme cases have results in loss of parts or complete digits. Also known as White Finger, NIOSH estimates more than a million workers are potentially exposed to this condition.
Fortunately, HAVS is preventable and following these five tips is a good start:
- Hold tools as loosely as possible and in varying positions.
- Ensure that tools are well maintained and inspected regularly.
- Use the right tool for the job and use it properly, don’t take shortcuts.
- Take 10 minute breaks regularly. Short bursts of work are better than long periods of continual work with the tool.
- Keep yourself warm while at work (especially your hands).
Other administrative controls include rotating workers to do the task, so no individual worker has prolonged or repeated exposure to the vibration hazard.
As a last line of defense, employers should provide anti-vibration PPE for their workers as well. Specialized products like vibration-reducing work gloves that meet the requirements of the ANSI S2.73/ISO 10819 standard and feature a gel palm that reduces vibration and dampens shock and impact can further reduce the negative effects of vibration on workers.
Employing the tips above combined with regular worker rotation and the use of anti-vibration PPE will ensure that you’re doing your part to prevent HAVS on your jobsite. Hopefully, the improvement will be enough to make you say, “Holy cow!”