If you work in construction, you already understand that accidents and injuries can occur in a split second, often with little warning. In the world of workers’ compensation, these are referred to as “acute injuries.” They happen at a moment in time, usually with a clear cause.
But injuries in construction work can also be cumulative, with damage building up over time. These wear-and-tear injuries are sometimes harder to pinpoint because the symptoms occur so gradually. Nonetheless, many of these injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
In today’s post, we’ll discuss a lesser known medical condition that afflicts many construction workers. It is called Hand-arm vibration syndrome, or HAVS. Anyone who regularly works with power tools is at risk, especially if they also work in colder climates.
Damage And Pain Over Time
Nearly all power tools vibrate, and the vibrations are transferred into your hands and arms. Over time, prolonged vibration of the limbs can lead to symptoms that include:
- Loss of color in the fingers (turning white)
- Tingling in the arms/hands
- Numbness in the arms/hands
- A weakened grip
The condition is sometimes mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome. But perhaps the most obvious sign of HAVS is the “blanching” of the fingers. When they lose color, that is a pretty clear indication that it is HAVS and not carpal tunnel.
Prevention Is Key
There are many things you can do to prevent HAVS if you work with power tools. It is important to take rest breaks each hour, try to dampen vibrations with the use of approved gloves or other equipment, grip the tools less tightly and keep the tools in good working order. If you are working in the cold, it is critical to keep your hands warm.
Cumulative injuries are often more difficult to prove in a workers’ compensation claim because they don’t come from a defined event with a clear cause. Nonetheless, you can file a claim for HAVS and other cumulative injuries if you can get a correct diagnosis and link it back to your job duties.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be a great help in filing and appealing claims. If you’d like to know more about your legal options, contact our firm to discuss your case.