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Written by
on 24 July 2012


Vibration Syndrome

Hand arm vibration syndrome, which is also called HAVS is a disorder caused to the fingers, arms and hands due to continued exposure to vibration while using various vibrating tools and machines. It is a very painful and potentially disabling condition with symptoms including numbness, tingling sensation, and also loss of nerve sensitivity. Since, symptoms of HAVS are irreversible, it is extremely important that people at high risk jobs should take extra care to prevent its onset and if symptoms of HAVS develop, it should be consulted with their health care provider immediately.


There is no specific treatment for HAVS, but there are some ways to manage the condition effectively. The first thing in effective management of HAVS condition is to stop using vibrating machines and tools, if possible. Stopping the use of vibrating tools may prevent the condition from getting worse. If the damage caused to arms, fingers, and hands are mild, then one can expect a complete recovery from its symptoms. For severe HAVS conditions, which could result in Hand Arm Vibrations Syndrome Compensation, the symptoms are irreversible which force the individuals to ease out their condition through other management techniques.

Stay Warm

Cold weather may trigger conditions of HAVS pain among people suffering from this condition. To reduce the symptoms of HAVS, it is not only necessary to keep the hands warm by wearing gloves, but also keep the whole body warm whenever possible. Also, touching cold objects like frozen things may trigger the symptoms of HAVS. So, people who feel a bout of HAVS in their hands should immediately place their hands inside warm water to get fast relief. Battery operated heated gloves and portable heating pads are also helpful for people suffering from severe conditions of HAVS.

Side effects of other drugs

Smoking is known to aggravate the symptoms of HAVS. Chemical substances present in tobacco causes the blood vessels to become narrow thereby making the symptoms worse. Certain medications, which is taken to treat other medical conditions can also trigger the symptoms of HAVS or even make them worse. Contraceptive pills, migraine headache medications, caffeine, amphetamine, cocaine, decongestants, and beta-blockers are some medications that narrow blood vessels, and trigger or aggravate HAVS symptoms. People who take such medications for treating their other medical disorders should consult their doctor to discuss other possible drug alternatives.

Exercise Regularly

Some experts recommend regular exercise to their patients to get relief from HAVS symptoms. Exercising not only helps to improve blood circulation in the hands, but also keeps the body fit and healthy. A fit and healthy body is resilient against various stress factors that causes HAVS. The individual should also maintain a good cardiovascular health, because good flow of blood to the hands is very crucial in managing conditions of HAVS effectively.

Certain medications are also known to provide some effectiveness in treating HAVS. These drugs act on the blood vessels and dilates them, causing good blood circulation into the hands and arms.

Hand arm vibration syndrome can be managed effectively, if diagnosed and acknowledged early. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more likely the patient would recover from its symptoms. Early detection may also prevent the HAVS condition from worsening.


David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

One Comment
  • Nick Molloy says:

    Good to raise awareness of this issue and the HSE also specify guidelines in what is required to monitor potential HAV exposure.

    Vibration at Work (HSE) Regulations 2005

    Employers are legally required to conduct:
    – Exposure assessment
    – Exposure reduction
    – Health Monitoring
    – Information and Training

    Also effective from October 2012, the HSE ‘fee for intervention’ charge comes into effect. The Government has agreed that it is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right – and not the public purse.

    Many companies struggle to maintain a HAV management policy due to its complexities or it stays on their to-do list as it’s seen as a lower risk than other issues.

    Testing and tagging your plant for vibration output; health screening, training and educating employees on best practise and why they should support HAV monitoring is only the beginning. Short term/sub contractors and sole traders also add to the complexity in managing HAV risk. The challenge is to create procedures to monitor and manage HAV that is supported by all individuals and is realistic and reliable. Implementing a HAV monitoring system is a key part of this while maintaining the quality of a monitoring system is paramount in supporting workforce welfare, meeting HSE guidelines and reducing business risk.

    The HAV monitoring procedure needs to be supported at all levels and clear procedures are required to support the flow of exposure data. Each group of stakeholders will have different benefits and the formats to convey these benefits will also differ.


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