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Protecting workers from hand-arm vibration syndrome

Heavy machinery and hand-operated power tools are often found in New Jersey workplaces. Construction sites and factories are two examples of areas where it is common for a worker to come into close physical contact with machinery during the day, and it is quite ordinary for an employee in either of those fields to spend a large part of their work week using powered hand tools. Unfortunately, the sort of vibration and shaking that is associated with powered tools has the possibility of becoming extremely harmful to the worker over time.

The constant mechanical vibration experienced by the users of power tools can cause a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome. This describes a host of vibration-related symptoms such as tingling in the fingers or hand, numbness and pain. The flow of blood to the fingers can be impaired so completely that the extremities will turn pale. Serious cases may even cause gangrene.

Experts on hand-arm vibration syndrome have characterized the condition as one of the most serious neuromuscular disorders faced by those working in manufacturing or construction. A wide variety of protective aids have been devised to help shield workers from HAVS.

Companies that expose their workers to occupational hazards such as those found with heavy machinery must provide all necessary safety gear in order to operate in full compliance with the law. Workers' compensation benefits are designed to help cover medical expenses, rehabilitation and a portion of wages lost to a person who is injured in a workplace accident or who has contracted a occupational disease. An attorney can often be of assistance in the preparation and filing of the required claim.

Source: Safety and Health, "Hand-arm vibration syndrome", Sarah Trotto, Oct. 25, 2015

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