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Hand arm vibration claims

What is Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) used to be called Vibration White Finger (VWF), and is caused by the prolonged use of hand-held power tools such as power drills, hammer drills and pneumatic drills, sanders, chainsaws, road breakers and powered lawnmowers.  
It can lead to significant poor health, including painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints, and the connective tissues of the hand and forearm.  Some 2 million people are at risk of HAVS in the UK.  While it is preventable, once the damage has occurred it is permanent and people who have developed this syndrome are often unable to work in their previous role.
Symptoms of HAVS, which is often triggered by cold weather, include:
  • tingling ‘whiteness’ or numbness in the fingers
  • fingers changing colour
  • the loss of manual dexterity
  • the loss of strength and grip in the hands

In rare cases the sufferer may lose fingers.
Employers have a duty to protect their workers from harm, and The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 tell employers what steps they have to take to ensure that their employees are protected from developing HAVS. 

Which sectors are affected by HAVS?

  • Construction, road and railway workers
  • Staff who maintain parks, road site verges, grounds and water courses
  • People who work in forestry
  • People who work in heavy engineering, heavy industry, concrete production, and foundries.
  • People who work in mines and quarries
  • People who work in the motor vehicle industry

Our experienced accident at work team has represented a number of people who have developed HAVS.

HAVS case study

We acted for AK who developed HAVS after using vibrating machinery at work for more than 10 years. He worked for one company for one year and for another for nine years.  In his role he was involved in mains laying which involved digging up road using vibrating machinery. 
He first noticed symptoms of HAVS when he was on holiday. After he had been swimming his fingers appeared notably white.  Soon after he saw an Occupational Health specialist who diagnosed HAVs.
AK alleged that he received no training during either employment, or advice about the risks of working with vibrating machinery.
His second employer admitted legal responsibility for exposing him to excessive vibration in the course of his work but disputed that the vibrations had caused his symptoms. 
His first employer refused to admit that AK had ever worked for them but, if he had, they denied that there was any excessive vibration and also disputed that the vibrations had caused his symptoms.
The accident at work team gathered evidence from a Vascular Surgeon who confirmed that AK had some lost sensation in fingers 1, 2 and 3, reduced grip and decreased manual dexterity and that this was caused by his workplace exposure. 
To force a resolution, civil proceedings were issued against both defendants.
A couple of months before the trial, both defendants offered AK a five-figure settlement proposal which he accepted. 
AK still works for his second employer, but in a different role which involves no exposure to vibrating tools.   

Talk to the accident at work team

If you are suffering from HAVS which you believe has been caused by your job, please contact our expert accidents at work team about starting a compensation claim. Please call 0161 393 3570 and someone will get back to you.

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