When using machinery at work, it’s essential that employees and employers alike know what their responsibilities are so that this equipment can be used safely and won’t result in serious injuries or long-term health conditions as a consequence.

Hand arm vibration syndrome is preventable but unfortunately, once the damage has been done it is permanent – and it can be both serious and disabling, with almost two million people at risk, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

Damage can include the inability to do fine work and cold conditions can trigger very painful finger blanching attacks – important to note since we’re now leaving summer behind and heading into autumn and winter.

By law, employers have to assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce the risks from exposure to hand arm vibration, so that they’re better placed to protect staff members from risks to their health.

When the risks are low, actions taken may only need to be simple and inexpensive, but if the risks are high you need to manage them using a prioritised action plan to help control exposure.

Hand arm vibration is vibrations transmitted from work processes into people’s hands and arms, caused by operating handheld power tools like road breakers or hand-guided equipment, like powered lawnmowers.

Early symptoms include tingling and numbness in the fingers, an inability to feel things properly, loss of strength in the hands, and fingers going white and then becoming red and painful on recovery. These symptoms may appear after just a few months of exposure, but it can take years for them to appear.

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