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Vibrating tools may cause damage to hands and arms

Louisiana construction workers who use certain types of equipment that exposes them to repeated vibration may experience a neuromuscular disorder known as hand-arm vibration syndrome. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, early detection and changing the job of a worker who uses vibrating tools and is exhibiting symptoms of HAVS is key to the prevention of further harm.

Workers may be exposed to HAVS by operating jackhammers, riveters, chain saws and other tools that vibrate. According to a biochemical engineer for NIOSH, symptoms may develop in as short a time as six months. Symptoms may include pain, finger blanching, tingling, weaker grip and numbness. In some cases, it may result in gangrene. Once the fingers become blanched, the condition might be permanent.

A California bioengineering professor recommends exposure reduction and purchase of tools with less vibration in the handle. OSHA also has recommendations to prevent this neuromuscular disorder. Training workers on the hazards of vibration may include instructing them on the symptoms and tools that may produce this injury and on how to limit their exposure by taking breaks or limiting work time when using vibrating tools. Using techniques to damp down vibrations or using isolators may be the most effective way to prevent HAVS, according to OSHA.

On-the-job injuries such as HAVS may become permanent and debilitating. A worker who has been injured on the job may be eligible to file a claim for benefits under the employer's workers' compensation coverage. As the filing process is time-sensitive, the assistance of an attorney can be important, especially in cases where the damage is not immediately evident.

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