Hand care

Council Fined £150,000 for failing to protect Employees from the risk of HAVS!

Posted By Stephanie Hancox on 2017-10-17 08:59

Across the UK alone, there are 2 million people who are at a great risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). With those working with the below list of tools or employed in the below list of jobs being at the greatest risk. 

Vibrating Tools such as:

  • Chainsaws
  • Drills
  • Powered Hammers
  • Floor Polishers,                                               
  • Mowers
  • Sanders

However, this is a very compact list and any job which involves the prolonged and frequent use of vibrating tools are at risk. 

Industries such as :

  • Construction Work
  • Vehicle manufacturers
  • Outdoor maintenance workers such as gardeners
  • Engineering

But yet again, as with the above, these are just a compact selection of industries at risk and if you commute via bike, you might also be at risk according to a report by Dr.Mark Taylor of Edinburgh Napier University. 

What about the Councils Duty of Care??

Although Wrexham Council had policies in place, to protect their employees (especially outdoor workers who are most at risk), they failed to ensure that these policies were put into practice over a period of 5 YEARS.

Unfortunately, this failure to protect employees only came to light when a park worker complained about developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrom. 

HAVS can affect employees both in work and at home, so its important to reduce and monitor risks as much as possible with the correct surveilance and PPE. 


What Symptoms should I be aware off?

" Nerve symptoms -Loss of feeling (numbness) and/or pins and needles (tingling) in one or more fingers are usually the early features. It may be mild and just affect the tips of the finger(s) and come and go. In severe cases, a permanent numbness may extend along affected fingers. This may cause clumsiness and difficulty in doing fine tasks. For example, it may become difficult to fasten buttons or to handle coins, screws, nails, threads, etc. In many people, the severity of nerve symptoms is somewhere in between these two extremes. Sometimes one finger is badly affected with other fingers only mildly affected.

Raynaud's phenomenon (white finger symptoms)

Raynaud's phenomenon comes in bouts or attacks that are triggered by cold weather or touching a cold object. A typical bout of Raynaud's phenomenon is as follows:

At first, the fingers go white and cool. This is due to the small blood vessels narrowing (going into spasm). They then go a bluish colour. This is due to the oxygen being used up from the reduced blood supply of the narrowed blood vessels. They then go bright red. This is due to the blood vessels opening up again (dilating) and the return of a good blood flow. This may cause tingling, throbbing and pain. Some people do not have the full classic colour changes but still develop bouts of uncomfortable, pale, cold fingers. The duration of each bout of symptoms can last from minutes to hours. The amount of pain or discomfort varies between people. Symptoms usually go after each bout but one or more bluish fingers may persist in severe cases.

Vibrating tools are just one cause of Raynaud's phenomenon. There are other causes too. See separate leaflet called Raynaud's Phenomenon.

Aches and pains -Minor damage to the muscles, joints and bones may cause aches and pains in the hands and lower arm. The strength of your grip may be weakened https://patient.info/health/hand-arm-vibration-syndrome-leaflet


For more information on HAVS and how you can protect your employees with the correct and proper surevilance and/or assesments, get in touch and we will endevour to help you throughout your enquiry. 


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Sources of information