Baby It’s Cold Outside – Stay Safe!
As winter approaches, it’s important to discuss protection against Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). The use of power tools in cold weather can be implicated in HAVS occurring either outdoors or indoors in inadequately heated areas.
HAVS is a debilitating illness caused by prolonged use of hand held and hand guided power tools, and it consists of a number of symptoms affecting the blood circulation, nervous system and muscles and bones in the hand and lower arm.
- Loss of feeling (numbness) and/or having pins and needles (tingling) in one or more fingers are usually the early features
- Severe cases can result in permanent numbness that may extend along affected fingers
- Sometimes one finger is badly affected with other fingers only mildly affected
- In some cases, one shoulder is also affected
- Hold tools as loosely as possible (while still maintaining control) and in varying positions
- Ensure that tools are well maintained
- Use tools correctly and use the right tool for the job
- The aim is not to need to use excessive grip, nor to use a tool for longer than necessary
- Take regular breaks of at least 10 minutes away from the tool
- Short bursts of work are better than long periods of work without a break
- Keep warm while at work – especially your hands
- Massage your hands and increase blood flow
- Wear gloves and try to cushion the vibration with a loose grip