Just about any type of vibrating tool, regardless of the size, can inflict injury if it is not handled the right way. Employers have a duty to ensure their employees are trained adequately and give them the appropriate protection from hazardous conditions.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Employees who have sustained injuries from regular use of power tools or other vibrating equipment may wish to commence an industrial accident claim.
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is a common issue among people working in the construction, mining, auto repair, engineering and agricultural sectors.
Common Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome Injuries
Injuries arising from vibration are a serious workplace issue and can result in severe and life changing disorders. Therefore, proper monitoring and decrease of exposure to vibration is paramount.
Hand-Arm vibration syndrome is typically encountered from the use of power tools. Such tools include hand drills, road breakers, chipping tools, jackhammers, concrete vibrators, polishers, sanders, needle guns, power chainsaws. As a result, injuries are primarily experienced by people working in construction, mining, auto repair and other engineering sectors.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is also known as Vibration White Finger (VWF), because of the white coloration of the victim’s fingers. The white coloration is caused by injury to the vascular, which results in restricted blood flow. Other than the changes in aesthetics, HAVS can cause a decrease in finger sensitivity, which begins in the tip. the condition can get worse if its left untreated.
In other cases, the victim can experience muscle damage, leading to a decrease in manual dexterity and grasp capability.
Some of the symptoms of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome are:
- Numbness in the fingers.
- A tingling feeling in the fingers.
- Loss of nerve sensitivity.
- Pain that disrupts sleep.
- Fingers turn white and swollen in cold conditions, and red and painful when warm.
- Picking up objects like nails becomes hard, because of the loss of grip strength in the hands.
Safety, Health & Welfare at Work
The primary legislation catering to the health and safety of workers is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. It covers all employers, employees, and self-employed persons in their places of work. The Act defines the rights and duties of both employers and employees and mandates significant penalties for any breaches.
Under Part 2, Section 8 of the Act, the general duties of employers include:
1. To ensure workers’ safety, health and welfare at the workplace as far as is sensibly practicable
2. Avert improper conduct or behaviour at the workplace that is likely to endanger workers
3. Provide and upkeep a safe, hazard free workplace, offer safe access and exit means, and provide safe plants and equipment
4. Ensure safety and prevention of risks resulting from article or substance use, or exposure to vibration, noise and physical agents
5. Offer work systems that are well-planned, organized, conducted, maintained and updated appropriately
6. Provide and adequately maintain workplace facilities and arrangements
7. Give information, training and supervision
8. Enforce safety, health and welfare measures required for the protection of workers, as established via risk assessments
9. Provide protective gear and clothing where risks can’t be sufficiently controlled or fully eliminated
10. Prepare and update emergency plans and processes
11. Report any accidents and dangerous incidents to the relevant authority
12. Obtain the services of a qualified individual for the sake of ensuring workplace safety and health
13. Ensure workplace safety measures incorporate both permanent and temporary employees and that no implemented measures brings a financial cost to the workers
Control of Vibration at Work by employers is also provided for by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. The objective of the regulations is to protect employees from risks caused by vibrations. The regulations require employers to do the following:
1. Evaluate the vibration risks to workers
2. Determine whether workers are exposed beyond the daily exposure limit value, and if that’s the case, take quick action to decrease the exposure
3. Determine whether workers are exposed beyond the daily exposure action value, and if so:
- Enforce a control program to eliminate or lower their daily exposure
- Offer relevant health surveillance to workers who are continuously exposed above the exposure action value
4. Offer information and training on health risks and controls
5. Maintain a record of possible risk assessments and control measures
6. Review and revise the risk assessment regularly
Case Assessment Advice
If you are suffering from an industrial accident at work, you can contact us by telephone or email and we will have an initial meeting with you to explore the facts and furnish a case opinion to you.
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