Tingling, numbness or pain experienced when operating vibrating tools should not be considered part of the job. The sensation is the body’s way of telling a worker something is wrong. Ignoring the pain and continuing the task may cause serious health issues, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Operating vibrating tools such as drills, grinders, sanders, jackhammers and lawn mowers can lead to hand and arm vibrations caused by the rapid back-and-forth motion of the tool. Over time, the vibrations can cause damage to the circulatory system in hands and fingers – a condition called vibration-induced white finger, or Raynaud’s syndrome. OBWC states that the condition is chronic and will worsen progressively with repeated exposure.
Symptoms of VWF can include:
- Tingling fingers or numbness
- White or blue fingers
- Trouble picking up minor objects
- Reduced feeling of heat, cold and pain in hands Trouble performing minor tasks, such as buttoning or zippering clothes
To reduce the risk of VWF, OBWC recommends:
- Keep tools in good condition; well-maintained equipment will reduce needless vibration.
- Use tools with built-in anti-vibration features.
- Do not place a lot of force on the tool or use a tight grip.
- Limit the amount of time the vibrating tool needs to be used.
- Frequently alternate the use of vibrating tools with other tasks.
- Keep your hands warm. Exposing hands to cold temperatures while using vibrating tools has been found to contribute to the onset of VWF.