HAVS: The Most Common Industrial Disease Among Rail Workers

Deborah Krelle
Author:
Deborah Krelle
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease
Date:
23/02/2022

Working on the railways as a railway engineer can expose you to excessive vibration which can lead to permanent, debilitating conditions such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

But this shouldn’t be the case.

Your employer is responsible for your health, safety and wellbeing whilst you’re under their care at work. If they fail to take steps to protect you from developing a condition like HAVS, you could be entitled to make a claim.

Get in touch with our team of Industrial Disease Solicitors to see how we can help.

Call us on 0808 239 0144 orrequest a callback

What is HAVS?

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a condition that’s caused by long periods of exposure to vibration which can permanently damage the nerves, blood vessels, joints and muscles in the arms, hands and wrists. HAVS is a condition that can make day-to-day life difficult and, in some cases, can even stop you from doing your job.

The railway industry has identified that HAVS is the most common occupational disease amongst rail workers. This is because rail workers often have to use high-vibration tools such as grinders, impact drills, sanders and polishers in their daily jobs.

What are the Effects of HAVS?

The most common symptoms of HAVS include:

  • tingling in the fingers;
  • numbness or loss of feeling in the fingers;
  • loss of hand or grip strength;
  • blanched fingers which become red and painful on recovery.

Workers that suffer from HAVS can often struggle with day-to-day tasks like picking up cutlery, fastening buttons or completing fiddly tasks.

Unfortunately, there is no cure or effective treatment for HAVS, and the symptoms are usually irreversible. This is why prevention is key. It’s your employer’s duty of care to make sure they take the appropriate steps to prevent you from developing this serious condition.

What to do if You’ve Already Developed HAVS

Your employer has a duty of care to protect you whilst you’re working for them. They should know which employees are at risk of developing HAVS, and they should ensure that proper measures are put in place to eliminate or reduce their long-term exposure to vibration.

These measures might include:

  • educating their staff on HAVS;
  • conducting thorough risk assessments;
  • rotating tasks that expose workers to excessive vibration;
  • monitoring employees who use vibrating equipment;
  • ensuring staff take adequate breaks.

However, if we can prove that you’ve been exposed to excessive vibration for long periods of time and that your employer failed to take steps to protect you from developing HAVS, you might be entitled to compensation.

To find out if you’re eligible for compensation, contact our Industrial Disease Solicitors for a free, no-obligation consultation.

For free legal advice call our Industrial Disease Solicitors

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