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The ABC's of identifying, assessing and reducing hand-transmitted vibration exposure in the workplace.

Krajnak K
The Leader 2014 Mar-May; 1(1):38-40
Most of us don't think about being exposed to vibration, but we are on a daily basis: when we drive our cars, mow the lawn and even when we are riding a bike on a rough surface. These exposures are usually short-term and may result in a tingling feeling or temporary discomfort. However, many people working in a number of different industries are exposed to vibration for an extended period through the repeated use of powered hand tools on a daily basis, and these people can develop more serious health problems as a result of this exposure. These workers may develop a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). The symptoms of HAVS include cold-induced constriction of the blood vessels in the fingers and hands that result in the skin appearing white. This whitening or blanching of the skin may also be accompanied by pain. Vibration can also induce a decrease in sensation to touch and reduce muscle strength in the hands. These changes result in a reduced ability to work and can have a significant effect on the quality of life if the condition progresses to the point where a worker can no longer grip utensils or button their clothing. Long-term health problems such as chronic pain and reductions in blood flow to the periphery can occur. Reducing the risk of developing these symptoms involves recognizing all possible sources of vibration, and then reducing or eliminating the transmission of that vibration to the worker. It is almost completely impossible to eliminate vibration exposures in the workplace or at home. However, by recognizing the sources of vibration exposure and then taking appropriate measures to reduce the generation, or block the transmission of vibration to the user, it is possible to reduce the potential for negative health consequences associated with HTV exposures.
Vibration; Vibration-effects; Vibration-exposure; Humans; Men; Women; Workers; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Risk-factors; Power-tools; Hand-injuries; Hand-tools
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The Leader
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division