Are you affected by power tool injuries?
According to the HSE, around two million employees in the UK are regularly exposed to potentially damaging levels of hand-arm vibration in the workplace. You may be affected if you experience any of the following:
- Your fingertips go white
- You have tingling or numbness in your fingers or hands
- You find it difficult to feel things with your fingers
- You lose strength in your hands, making it difficult to hold heavier items
Your employer has a duty to provide a safe working environment. However, until recently, many employers have failed to fully appreciate the medical problems associated with vibrating power tools. Nor have they taken sufficient steps to prevent workers from harm.
Are you at risk of power tool injuries?
You are at risk if you regularly use at work hand-held vibrating power tools such as:
- Jack hammers
- Impact wrenches
- Jigger picks
- Angle grinders
- Whacker plates
- Pneumatic drills
- Riveting tools
- Gas powered chainsaws
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many more tools which can cause a gradual injury to your hand or arms due to regular and consistent use.
Prevention of power tool injuries is better than cure
The symptoms of hand-arm vibration can improve somewhat if you stop using power tools. But in many cases once the damage is done it is unfortunately permanent. However, there are many steps you can take yourself to protect yourself in the workplace.
If you are suffering from hand-arm vibration and are still using vibrating tools, the first thing to do is to speak to your employer. Ideally you should be seeking not to use such tools, or at least reducing the time you use them and having frequent breaks. You may even want to consider changing roles. If it is not possible to stop using vibrating tools, you should make sure that the tools that you do use are always sharp and effective.