Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and vibration white finger (VWF) are work-related illnesses caused by exposure to vibrating machinery, tools and processes. Using power tools for just two to three hours a day can put you at risk of developing this debilitating condition, meaning chainsaw users, especially those working in the forestry sector and related industries, are particularly at risk.
At Seth Lovis & Co, we understand that prevention is vital when it comes to vibration white finger. We have, after all, seen the damage that is sustained and the effects that the condition has on everyday life whilst assisting clients in their vibration white finger claims.
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 was introduced to highlight employers' responsibilities to protect their workers from exposure at work. There are various steps that chainsaw and other hand-held or hand-guided power tool users should take to prevent damage to the nerves, blood vessels, and joints in their hands, wrists, and arms which can become affected.
Choose tools wisely
Whilst there are many industries, such as the forestry and estate management sectors, where the use of chainsaws and other tools is unavoidable, selecting a low-vibration alternative could reduce vibration white finger risk significantly.
Employers must protect workers from vibration white finger and other vibration-related conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and, where possible, the use of low vibration tools should be considered. According to the European Standard, all manufacturers of pneumatic and power tools must declare the vibration emissions and these need to be checked by employers and guidelines given to workers for the safe use of each tool or machine.
Regular tool maintenance is crucial
Chainsaws and other tools should be checked for faults and wear before each use; those in need of repair may create a higher level of vibration than usual.
A chainsaw's cutting equipment should also be correctly maintained. The chain itself can become slack with increased use, whilst the sharpness of the chain will also reduce over time. Keeping the chain properly adjusted and sharpened is not only important for efficiency and precision but it will also mean the chainsaw is safer to use and will vibrate less.
Maintain good circulation
Chainsaw users working outdoors or in cold environments tend to be more at risk of developing vibration white finger. They should avoid poor blood circulation by keeping as warm as possible, taking regular breaks and wearing anti-vibration equipment, such as gloves, whenever necessary.
Workers who use chainsaws regularly should be encouraged, as part of their training, to make lifestyle changes to encourage blood circulation. Quitting smoking and exercising on a regular basis will improve blood flow, whilst massaging and exercising fingers during and after power tool use is also helpful to prevent vibration related illnesses.
Start your vibration white finger claim today
If you have developed vibration white finger, then you may have discovered that its impact is life-changing. Completing even the simplest tasks can prove difficult due to the loss of feeling in your fingers, hands and wrists.
If you feel that your employer could have done more to limit your exposure to vibration at work then you may be entitled to compensation.
Contact Seth Lovis & Co today on 0808 252 0678 to discuss your vibration white finger claim.