Workers who use hand-held vibrating tools (e.g. jackhammer) on a regular basis are at risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) 1. Musculoskeletal, neurological, and vascular symptoms can appear after only a few years of high exposure. There are many more cases occurring than are being reported. 10% of Canadian manual workers are exposed, which is 1% of the overall workforce.
Based on the recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), researchers conclude that occupational health professionals, workers, and employers should consider the seriousness of vibration syndrome 2.
What are the symptoms?
- Blanching (turning pale and ashen
- Loss of sensations (touch and grip strength)
- Painful wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
NIOSH recommends that engineering controls, medical surveillance, work practices, and personal protective equipment be used to help reduce exposure to vibrating hand tools and to help identify vibration syndrome in its early stages among workers likely to be at risk2.