Industrial workers operating hand-held vibrating tools are prone to a health condition called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). HAVS is the effect of vibration in tendons, muscles, bones and joints which eventually affects the nervous system. The condition worsens when hands are exposed to the cold.
Basically the symptoms of HAVS are:
– bone cysts in fingers and wrists
– fingers become white (blanching) when exposed to cold
– loss of light touch
– poor grip strength
– loss of finger sensation
Exposure to HAVS has vascular (affecting normal blood flow) and neurological (loss of touch sensation) effects. Although the progression of HAVS is gradual, it may take a few months to several years before the symptoms become clinically noticeable.
There are several reasons why vibration-related diseases such as HAVS is difficult to diagnose, first of which is the unavailability of objective clinical studies that could effectively measure the symptoms. Another reason is that the symptoms only become evident if it is severe enough that the worker is unable to perform his tasks. Moreover, there are not enough trained physicians to
accurately diagnose vibration-induced white finger (VWF), one of the indications of the onset of HAVS.
Vibration-related diseases is still a long way from being recognized as an industrial disease but with the concerted efforts of business owners promoting a safety culture in their respective organizations, this disease could be prevented or altogether eliminated.
Image credit: http://mrg.bz/pEP2ic