Health Effects

Hand-arm vibration is vibration transmitted into your hands and arms when you use hand-held powered work equipment. Too much exposure to hand-arm vibration can cause hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is hand-arm vibration syndrome?

  • HAVS affects the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm.
  • It can become severely disabling if ignored.
  • It includes vibration white finger, which can cause severe pain in the affected fingers.

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve disorder which may involve pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in parts of the hand, and can be caused by, among other things, exposure to vibration.

What are the early signs and symptoms to look out for?

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers (which can cause sleep disturbance).
  • Not being able to feel things with your fingers.
  • Loss of strength in your hands (you may be less able to pick up or hold heavy objects).
  • In the cold and wet, the tips of your fingers going white then red and being painful on recovery (vibration white finger).

If you continue to use high-vibration tools these symptoms will probably get worse, for example:

  • the numbness in your hands could become permanent and you won’t be able to feel things at all;
  • you will have difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails;
  • the vibration white finger could happen more frequently and affect more of your fingers.

Testimonial:

Historic Scotland - Andrew Nisbet, Works Manager

“We have introduced the HAVmeters at our sites along the Antonine Wall before rolling it out at our other properties. These sites require constant grounds maintenance and the meters allow us to ensure that staff are not being exposed to excessive levels of vibration. We regularly assess our staff exposure but the meters allow us an extra degree of safety by alerting our teams when the overuse of equipment could be harmful. We have just started using the meters as our summer season starts and will be monitoring the results that they produce. We have found them easy to put in place. They will now be rolled out to teams across other properties, including some of the most famous historic landmarks in the country.”