While useful in a variety of settings, power tools don’t come without risks. Injuries resulting from improper or accidental use can lead to lacerations and abrasions on either the user or nearby workers and passersby. In addition to these dangers, excessive power tool use can lead to a potentially long-term condition called hand-arm vibration syndrome.
What is hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)?
HAVS is a condition where the nerves, veins, and muscles in your hands and arms become weakened or damaged through long-term use of vibrating power tools like chainsaws and drills. Most patients of HAVS have used vibrating tools for more than 10 years. Hand-arm vibration syndrome is preventable, and people who suffer from HAVS can potentially recover; however, if HAVS patients do not catch the symptoms early enough, they may experience the symptoms permanently.
What are the symptoms of HAVS?
The symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome often start with aches in muscles and altered tactile sensations, making tasks like buttoning a shirt unusually difficult. Pins and needles is another sensation that HAVS patients may experience, as well as numbness and clumsiness. Raynaud’s phenomenon, in which fingers turn white and cold as blood vessels restrict, may occur in bouts during cold weather or when using vibrating power tools.
How can I prevent HAVS?
If you regularly use vibrating power tools, consider the following methods to prevent HAVS:
- Maintain your power tools regularly to prevent excess vibration;
- Break from power tools every 10 minutes rather than long, uninterrupted work;
- Keep your hands warm while using power tools;
- Don’t smoke to ensure healthy blood flow through your body at all times; and
- Operate power tools with loose holds and change positions often.
How can I recover from HAVS?
Patients of hand-arm vibration syndrome can recover if they stop using vibrating power tools as soon as symptoms begin. If you continue using power tools, especially without preventative measures, the symptoms are likely to worsen and persist long after you stop using vibrating tools.
Fortunately, if you follow the preventative advice above, you should avoid hand-arm vibration syndrome or at least catch it quickly before severe symptoms develop. Remember to use your power tools safely to avoid injury to yourself and those around you.
Meadows Farm Equipment is proud to serve Wedowee and the surrounding community for its small engines and power equipment needs. Come see us today on County Road 811 in Wedowee, or visit us at www.meadowsfarmequipment.com!