Workers risk vibration injuries from regular use of power tools

Industries in Pennsylvania that often require workers to use power tools include construction, forestry and mining. As a worker operates a power tool, the vibration of the device can slowly damage nerves and blood vessels. Chainsaws, grinders, drills and jackhammers all impose this risk upon an operator when use is regular and ongoing.

Prolonged vibration exposure frequently results in hand-arm vibration syndrome. An occupational vibration consultant said that approximately 2 million workers nationwide use power tools associated with hand-arm vibration injuries, and half of them will likely suffer from the effects of such an injury. A dean at a science college called HAVS the single most prevalent injury worldwide among employees in the construction and manufacturing trades.

Injured workers will experience symptoms like tingling in the hands and fingers, numbness or pain. A loss of color and an inability to grip things tightly also occur. Workers in cold climates face a higher risk of injury. Depending on exposure levels, symptoms arise within six months to six years. Once loss of color or blanching happens to the fingers, the condition cannot be treated effectively and damage becomes permanent.

Because a worker suffering from a vibration injury does not have a sudden workplace accident, reporting and documenting the injury can be difficult. In order to complete the application for workers' compensation benefits, the person might seek advice from an attorney familiar with occupational illnesses. An attorney could help assemble documentation about the workplace exposure and the resulting symptoms and then strive to accurately fill out the insurance company claim forms. If the employer or its insurance company disputes or denies the claim, the attorney could appeal on behalf of the worker.

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