Freeclaim Solicitors look at reducing the risks of developing HAVS
Vibration White Finger (VWF) or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is caused by using vibrating hand tools for a prolonged period of time.
Hand Arm Vibration can have significant health impacts if workers’ use of power tools is not controlled correctly and the company have failed to protect their workers from a debilitating condition which they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives
Vibration White Finger (VWF) or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is caused by using vibrating hand tools for a prolonged period of time. The use of these tools can begin to damage the nerves and blood vessels in the hands, and cause tingling and numbness in the fingers, reduced strength in the hands, and your fingers to become white or blotchy in colour. Unfortunately, once symptoms of HAVS appear, it is difficult to undo the damage. The symptoms are usually permanent.
A portable cold storage company from Nottingham have recently been fined after several of their workers developed HAVS. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Investigation found workers were using vibrating power tools for long periods of time, without their employers fully assessing the risks. Although they were aware of the dangers of using power tools since 2005, the company did not take action to protect their workers until 2011, when symptoms first presented themselves in one of their workers. One workers condition is so bad he can no longer work and has to claim disability benefit. He commented on his condition; “I was told by letter that I had Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome- something I didn’t understand at the time. It didn’t sink in at first that it could stop me doing the job I love. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome has made it very difficult for me to find employment and I really miss working”.
After the investigation, a HSE spokesperson also commented on the companies failings to their workers saying, “Hand Arm Vibration can have significant health impacts if workers’ use of power tools is not controlled correctly and the company have failed to protect their workers from a debilitating condition which they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives”.
Employers have a duty to prevent their workers developing HAVS. All equipment provided should be in good repair to avoid excessive vibrations, and the time that vibrating power tools are used should be monitored to lower the chances of developing vibration white finger.
Employers should make arrangements to reduce and control the risks of their employees developing HAVS. This should include undertaking a risk assessment of all vibrating equipment used, and assessing how long workers are exposed to this equipment whilst it is vibrating. If there are high levels of exposure and risk, employers should look into alternative working arrangements to lower exposure and also look at alternative equipment that could be used.
They can also provide Health Surveillance for any employees at risk of developing HAVS, to look out for early symptoms and reduce the risk of these symptoms developing and causing further disabilities. If workers are further exposed to vibrating power tools after symptoms emerge they can become much worse.
If you have developed Vibration White Finger or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome from exposure to vibrating power tools at work, you may be able to claim compensation. Freeclaim Solicitors are expert accident at work solicitors who could help you claim compensation for HAVS. To find out more about how Freeclaim could help you today, visit their website- http://www.freeclaim.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call them 24 hours a day on 0800 612 7340.
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