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It could just be a one-off, but for people who regularly work with impact or vibrating tools, tingling in the fingers could be a symptom of something much worse. It might be called “white finger,” “dead finger” or “hand-arm vibration syndrome” the term which we will use in this post. It’s characterized by loss of color in the hands and tingling in the fingertips.
In this blog, we’ll be discussing hand-arm vibration syndrome, its causes, symptoms and preventative measures. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, we advise visiting your doctor.
(See how our gloves eliminated HAVS from an American windshield repair company by clicking the image below!)
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is “the medical term for symptoms caused by vibration damages that may occur in the fingers, hands and arms when working with vibrating tools or machinery,” according to Vibrosense Dynamics. HAVS doesn’t set in overnight. But if exposure continues on an ongoing basis, the blood vessels in the fingers will begin to collapse. Skin and muscle tissue won’t receive enough oxygen and the tissue eventually dies. Resulting in numbness in the affected areas.
Any power tool that transmits vibration can cause HAVS. Injuries can occur from using vibrating tools at frequencies between 5 and 2000 Hz but the greatest risk for fingers is between 50 and 300Hz.
HAVS can affect nerves, joints, muscles, blood vessels or connective tissues of the hands and forearms and take on several different symptoms:
One of the earliest indicators of HAVS injury is loss of feeling or tingling in the fingers. It may only be in the fingertips at first, but as exposure continues, it can result in permanent numbness, spreading up the hand and into the arm.
Once the effects of HAVS begins, cold weather can affect your hands. Fingers will become pal and loss feeling. This may be follow by intense flush of color and accompanied by pain when blood circulation returns. It’s a similar feeling to when your foot falls asleep and it prickles when you walk on it to ‘wake it up.’
As symptoms worsen, manual dexterity and grip strength will reduce. Simple tasks like pouring water into a glass or buttoning a shirt become incredibly difficult.
Many countries have legislation to limit worker exposure to vibration. Steps include supplying PPE and providing equipment that transmits less vibration. The Centers for Disease Control lists the vibration data of different models of power tools.
One thing to keep in mind is that using a tool that vibrates less for a long period of time can be as damaging as using a heavily-vibrating tool for a short time. Preventative measures that OSHA recommends:
When selecting PPE, look for gloves that have anti-vibration properties and are certified to EN ISO 10819, like our Vibrastop™ Anti-Vibration Gloves which helped eliminate HAVS for an American windshield repair company.
(Want to reduce the risk of HAVS in your company? Try a sample of our Vibrastop™ Anti-Vibration Gloves for FREE!)
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