Many occupations in the construction and manufacturing industries rely on powered tools and equipment to complete jobs that workers wouldn’t otherwise be able to accomplish. Some tools and equipment cause small to large vibrations, and over time, repetitive vibration exposure can cause workers injuries.
What Are Vibration Injuries?
When a worker is exposed to repeated vibrations, particularly in their hands and arms, this can cause vascular, musculoskeletal, and/or neurological damage. Exposure to vibration can cause the small blood vessels in the hands and fingers to constrict, limiting blood flow to the area. When blood flow is restricted, fingers can turn white and the area becomes numb; however, when the small blood vessels contract again, it can cause tingling and pain in the hands.
Musculoskeletal injuries from vibration can take various forms including arthritis, tendonitis, and decreased grip strength. These medical conditions are caused by changes in the muscle fibers that limit mobility and cause pain. Neurological damage from vibration can often be corrected if treated early enough. Early symptoms can include tingling and numbness in the fingers. As the damage progresses, a person can experience impaired sensitivity and limited dexterity.
Protect Yourself From Workplace Vibrations
While some workers might find numbness or tingling to be a minor effect of working with vibrating tools, proper medical treatment is the key to preventing permanent damage. Fully developed neurological and musculoskeletal damage is irreversible and can make simple tasks like pouring a glass of water impossible.
Tools like chainsaws, drills, jackhammers, sanders, and impact wrenches can cause vibration damage. For workers who rely on these tools, taking the safety steps listed below can help reduce their likelihood of developing vibration injuries.
Vibration Injury Prevention Tips
- Wear the right safety gear. Protective gloves can greatly reduce the stress on fingers, hands, and arms while operating tools.
- Take frequent breaks. Limiting the continuous time you’re exposed to vibration can reduce injury over time.
- Operate tools at a lower speed. If possible, use a lower setting or less powerful tools to complete a job.
- Keep your arms and hands warm. Vibration injuries can be aggravated by cold. Wearing an additional pair of gloves to protect against the cold can help reduce the risk of injury.
- If you begin to experience any symptoms, seek medical attention.
Employers are required to provide proper training and safety equipment to their workers, including educating workers about the dangers of vibration injuries. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Workers who don’t receive training and safety equipment for vibration injuries may be able to hold employers responsible for any resulting personal injuries.
Houston Vibration Injury Attorneys
Vibration injuries can take months or years to develop, but if left untreated, they can cause permanent damage. If you or someone you love sustained a vibration injury and can no longer work, call the experienced Houston workplace injury attorneys at Richard J. Plezia & Associates today for a free consultation.