Today’s blog post comes from Anthony L. Lucas of The Jernigan Law Firm in North Carolina. He writes about a problem that can affect many workers who frequently use vibrating hand tools.
This post is an example of an occupational disease that “is triggered by one’s job over the course of time,” according to a previous blog post from our firm.
Some occupational diseases can be challenging when it comes to workers’ compensation coverage. So if you have concerns about either an occupational disease or an injury that happened at work, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Vibration White Finger (VWF) or “Dead Finger,” now known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is a chronic, progressive disorder caused by regular and prolonged use of vibrating hand tools that can progress to loss of effective hand function and necrosis of the fingers. In its advanced stages, the obvious symptom is finger blanching (losing color). Other symptoms include numbness, pain, and tingling in the fingers, as well as a weakened grip.
It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the estimated 2 million U.S. workers exposed to hand-arm vibration will develop HAVS. Some common industries and the tools associated with HAVS are listed below:
- Agriculture & Forestry – Chainsaws
- Automotive – Impact Wrenches, Riveting Guns
- Construction – Jackhammers
- Foundries – Chippers, Grinders
- Metal Working – Buffers, Sanders
- Mining – Jack-Leg Drills, Stoper Drills
The time between a worker’s first exposure to hand-arm vibration to the development of HAVS symptoms can range from a few months to several years. Prevention is critical because while the early stages of HAVS are usually reversible if vibration exposure is reduced or eliminated, treatment is usually ineffective after the fingers blanch.
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