Power tools that vibrate can be detrimental to one’s health. People that operate jackhammers and other tools can get HAVS, or Hand and Arm Vibration Syndrome. To prevent this type of injury, one must limit his use of vibrating tools. One must keep a HAVS record sheet to monitor his exposure to vibration.
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One can record in this document the tools they use, the material they work on, and the time limit. Restriction varies for each tool and material.
For example, a worker using a jackhammer on asphalt can work for 36 minutes without a break. Yet, when he is working on concrete, the limit is 40 minutes.
A worker with Stage 2 HAVS can use a jackhammer on concrete for 9 minutes. Those with Stage 3 HAVS must not use vibration tools.
Construction site employers can use a HAVS record sheet so they can better keep track of who last used vibrating tools and implement job rotation. A construction worker can use vibration tools for two days. In the next three days, the employer can assign him tasks that do not require the use of hand and power tools.
Long regular use of hand and power tools poses a danger to one’s health. Construction workers are the most vulnerable sector to the risks of vibration. The hazards are as follows:
1. Tingling or Numbness of the Fingers
The tingling or numbness of the fingers is a sign of nerve damage. A damaged nerve on the finger cannot no longer supply blood to the tissue. One has to pay attention to this symptom. When left untreated, this can affect the carpal tunnel and cervical disk.
2. Whitening of the Fingers
Vibration-induced whitening of the fingers is common among operators of hand-held tools that vibrate. One can experience numbness and pain when they place their hands in cold water. The cold weather can also aggravate the condition.
3. Lack of Sense of Touch
Exposure to vibration has a vascular and neurological effect. It impedes the flow of the blood to the veins. Lack of blood can cause one to lose the sense of touch. One cannot feel a light touch anymore.
4. Loss of Grip Strength
Vibration syndrome causes damage to nerves, tendons, and muscles. It becomes difficult to grip a cup or a glass. Dropping something that one holds is a common experience among those suffering from HAVS.
5. Bone Cysts on Fingers and Wrists
Using hand-held vibrating tools for a long time can affect the bones of the fingers and the wrist. One can develop cysts on the bones.
Hand and arm vibration syndrome develops slowly. It starts with numbness or tingling in the fingertips. Do not ignore these symptoms. Minimize use of hand-held power lawnmower, jackhammer, and other hand-guided equipment to prevent the progress of the disease.
People suffering from hand-arm vibration syndrome will experience pain, lack of sleep, and reduced efficiency. Loss of hand strength can affect one’s work.
There are jobs and industries where employees are prone to have HAVS. People that engage in building and maintaining railways and roads cannot avoid using vibrating tools.
Certain countries leave the responsibility of reducing exposure to vibrations up to the employer. Monitoring the time workers spend in handling tools that undulate can help. The remedy is to reduce exposure time.
Employees that suffer from serious effects of vibration due to the nature of their work can demand compensation and benefits from their employers.
It is evident that exposure to vibration can result in one’s inability to work and earn an income. Yet, one can control his exposure to vibration. How?
1. Hold Tools Loosely and Change Hand Position Every Few Minutes
Holding the tool loosely will reduce the impact of the vibration. The nerves in the fingers will not be injured. Gripping the tools tightly makes the hands and arms shake a lot
Changing the position of the hands will allow the fingers to rest. The impact of the vibration will be distributed. It will reduce the damage to the nerves, tendons, and muscles.
2. Use Well-Maintained Tools
Defective tools tend to have strong vibrations. A damaged tool can be noisy. Instead of purring like a cat, it roars like a lion. If the device starts to sound louder than normal, stop using it. Too much shaking and noise can result in ear damage, headache, and a sense of confusion.
3. Take Regular Breaks From Using the Tool
Experts recommend a ten-minute break from using noisy vibrating tools. It is better to work in short bursts than working continuously for hours.
4. Keep Warm While at Work
Keep the hands warm while working. One can use gloves to keep the hands warm.
5. Do Not smoke
When one smokes, chemicals in the tobacco may result in poor blood circulation. This will aggravate the damage to the nerves. One will experience tingling fingers, numbness, and pain.
6. Use Tools With Low Vibration
Not all tools act the same way. There are manufacturers that make low-vibrating equipment. Employers must choose them. The cost might be high, but buying them can reduce the exposure of employees to vibration hazards.
7. Avoid Medication That Impedes Circulation to the Fingers
Not all medications can cure it. Some can worsen a person’s ailment. Medications that can aggravate tingling or numb fingers are beta-blockers, decongestants, pills for migraine as well as birth control pills.
To continue to control employee exposure to harmful vibration frequencies, you can use our HAVS risk assessment template.
HAVS is a serious medical condition that can ultimately destroy the nerves and muscles in your hand, leading to reduced grip control, loss of the sense of touch, and unemployment. Lumiform can help mitigate the risk of your employees developing this condition by preventing it from happening altogether. With the super intuitive mobile app, you can easily keep track of your employee’s job rotation, who was exposed to vibration, and for how long. Clean, transparent documentation helps you avoid having to pay out costly workers’ comp.
How can the digital app aid you in this goal?