Recovering Workers’ Compensation for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as jackhammer syndrome or vibration white finger, is a condition that affects the circulatory and neural systems in the fingers. Experts estimate that at least one million U.S. workers will develop HAVS. However, due to its tendency to be under-reported or unrecognized, the number may be much higher.
Causes of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
HAVS can take anywhere from a few months to years to develop. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers can develop advanced stages of HAVS after just one year of exposure. Workers at high-risk for developing HAVS are those in the construction, mining, carpentry, maintenance, and other fields involving the use of vibrating tools, such as:
- Dental tools
- Disc cutters
- Hammer drills
- Powered mowers
Those who develop HAVS may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries. For over 40 years, the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. have helped injured workers, including those with HAVS, obtain the compensation they need and deserve.
Symptoms of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
HAVS is often confused with carpal tunnel syndrome because it causes similar symptoms. It is important to recognize the symptoms of HAVS as early as possible to avoid worsening the condition. Common symptoms include:
- Blanching, where the skin turns white
- Cold sensation
- General aches and pains in surrounding areas
If you are experiencing symptoms of HAVS, seek medical attention immediately and consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, including medical care and lost wages. It is important to file your claim within the designated time frame, so you do not lose your eligibility to receive benefits.
How Employers Can Minimize Risk
Once HAVS develops, the damage is irreversible. Therefore, it is important for employers to take proper safety precautions to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that employers minimize the risk of workers developing HAVS by implementing proper engineering controls and work practices.
Engineering Controls: Vibration isolators or damping techniques can be utilized for vibration reduction. Vibration isolation mounts can absorb vibration energy and protect objects from affecting one another, thereby reducing the transmission of harmful vibrations to workers. Damping materials such as felts, liquid mastics, and elastomeric damping sheets may be effective for controlling the vibrating panels of machine housings and guards. What materials to use will be determined by the following:
- Frequency emitted by the machine
- Weight and size of the machine
- Desired noise/vibration reduction
Work Practices: Machines should be properly maintained so that they do not give off excessive vibrations. Workers should be instructed to alternate tasks between those involving vibrating and nonvibrating tools so their continuous exposure to vibrating tools is minimized. Employees should also be encouraged to take 10 to 15-minute breaks every hour. Finally, employees should be properly trained on the hazards of vibrating tools, including the following:
- Sources of vibration exposure
- Signs and symptoms of HAVS
- Best work practices for minimizing vibration exposure, such as keeping hands warm and dry and not gripping the vibrating tool too tightly
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Suffering From Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
If you are suffering from hand-arm vibration syndrome due to your use of vibrating tools at work, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you navigate the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system and obtain the compensation you deserve. We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.
Our team also provides skilled representation to those residing in and around Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.