How to Claim for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
If you believe you’re suffering with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) because you’ve used vibrating tools at work, you may be entitled to compensation.
Your employer has a legal obligation to ensure that you are protected against HAVS in the workplace. So they should be aware of the possible outcomes of using vibrating power tools and ensure you are aware of the dangers too. If they don’t fulfil this obligation, they could be breaking the law.
To make a successful HAVS compensation claim, you’ll need to prove that your employer failed in their duty of care towards you, and that you were exposed to a level of vibration that they knew posed a risk of injury.
Any claim for HAVS must be made within 3 years of the date you knew or ought to have known you were suffering with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.
What are the Symptoms of HAVS?
Short Term Symptoms
- Tingling sensation in the fingers, sometimes accompanied by numbness
- Lack of feeling in the fingers
- Problems with strength, grip, and dexterity
- Whitening of the fingers from the tips down, with painful recovery
Long Term Symptoms
- Problems will present more frequently, and affect more fingers as time goes on
- Lack of sensation in fingers could become permanent
- Dexterity problems will get worse, increasingly difficult to pick up small objects
- HAVS can be accompanied by carpal tunnel syndrome; a compression of the median nerve which causes pain, numbness, tingling and general weakness in the hands, often with night wakening.
- The severity of the condition and the symptoms that are present can vary greatly depending on the length and level of exposure suffered by an individual
If you think that you may have Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, you should first contact your GP and then report any concerns to your employer and, if relevant, your union representative.
If your employer has gone out of business, our Industrial Disease Solicitors can work to locate the insurer who provided employer’s liability insurance during the time you were employed.
How to Prevent HAVS
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the potential for HAVS when you are at work. For example:
- You should only use low vibration tools
- You should be permitted to take regular breaks or rotate tool usage to reduce the impact of vibration
- Employers should risk assess your job and provide training and guidance.
It should also be noted that using a tool that vibrates slightly for a long time can be just as damaging as using a heavily vibrating tool for a short time, so working practices that reflect this fact need to be implemented.
If your employer has been negligent and put you at risk when they could have had a much safer system of work in place to protect you, then you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, rehabilitation support and financial losses such as lost wages and out of pocket expenses.
If you're concerned that HAVS is affecting you and your day-to-day life, get in touch with our Industrial Disease Solicitors. We can assess your case and advise you on whether you have a good chance of obtaining compensation.
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