What Causes Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)?

Did you know that vibrating tools can cause injury?

Excessive or prolonged and uncontrolled use of vibrating tools can cause injury. The injury is often called hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Years ago this was also called vibration white finger. It is so called because the symptoms sometimes cause the tips of the fingers to become white or pallid in appearance.

If you have worked with vibrating tools for a period of time in particular such tools as Kango’s, jackhammers, jigger picks; Stihl saws; nut runners; industrial sanders or similar then you may have suffered such symptoms on a temporary basis. If however the symptoms persist particularly in cold weather, you may have an actionable claim against your employer for compensation if your employer has failed to control the use of these tools and reduce your exposure to vibration to an absolute minimum. Employers are required to monitor the use of vibrating tools, to carry out health surveillance and to assess the vibration output of each tool that is in use.

Our experts have handled numerous claims of this type including a boat builder who recovered compensation as result of prolonged exposure to sanders and buffers in his employment giving cause to significant symptoms over a period of years. He recovered several thousand pounds in compensation plus his legal fees.

Another example is a construction worker who was required to lay concrete at civil engineering sites using vibro-pokers to remove the air from the liquid concrete over many hours in his shift. This led over a period of years to significant symptoms which were compensatable. A claim was brought against the employer’s insurers who eventually paid over £20,000.00 in compensation for injuries and loss of earnings plus legal fees.

One further example is a claimant who operated needle guns to remove the scale from metal tanks. The volume of vibration omitted by his tools was measured and found to be in excess of the permitted legal limits over time and which then led to a successful claim in compensation for his injuries and loss of earnings.

Even if you are no longer working with the tools or for the same employer you still have three years from the date of your last culpable exposure to bring a claim. You can bring a claim against many different employers but normally it is the last employer that exposed you to excessive vibration that is liable for your symptoms. If however you are still working with tools each day then you could be exposed to a new cause of action.

If you suffer from the above or have questions about HAVS then please contact us on 0845 450 6135 or email ncragg@setfords.co.uk who can advise you about whether you are likely to have a successful claim in compensation for exposure to excessive vibration at work.