HAVS – Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Do you work with your hands? Do you use vibrating tools or drive a car often? If so, you may be at risk for HAVS. Also known as the vibration white finger (VWF), this condition is caused by extended occupational exposure to vibration. This blog post will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of VWF.

What is HAVS?

The HAVS is a hand-arm vibration syndrome resulting from contact with mechanical vibrations. It is recognized as an occupational disease called “vibration syndrome” (or “vibration disease”).

What are the symptoms of HAVS?

HAVS symptoms are painful and disabling disorders of the nerves, blood vessels, joints, and muscles of the hands and arms. The most common visible symptom affecting the blood flow to the fingers is also known as vibration-induced white finger.

Is it possible to cure HAVS?

No. Medicine still cannot cure white finger disease, so the only way to treat it is by dealing with the symptoms. So the best way to avoid vibration disease is to minimize vibration risk to prevent the HAVS from happening in the first place.

Table of Contents

What is a vibration white finger?

Vibration white finger is the most common disease caused by vibrating hand tools. It is a type of vascular disorder that affects blood vessels in the fingers. The severe symptoms include fading fingertips on one or more fingers, often called “white-finger disease”.

hand-arm vibration measurement

What is a Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome HAVS?

The Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome HAVS is an occupational disease called “vibration syndrome” (or “vibration disease”) caused by prolonged exposure to mechanical vibrations. The vibration disease is a concern in many fields and jobs that include the use of hand-held vibrating tools (such tools as grinders or hammer drills), hand-guided equipment (such as lawnmowers and plate compactors), or hand-fed machines (such as pedestal grinders).

Do antivibration gloves work to prevent vibration syndrome?

No, personal protective equipment such as anti-vibration gloves does not solve this problem. They do not protect against low frequencies which are the most harmful. There is no way to measure their real efficiency in the field.

Hand Vibration

Hand vibrations are the vibrations that are transmitted through your hand and arm in the workplace. Hand vibration can be caused by using vibrating tools, hand-guided equipment, or by holding materials being worked by hand-fed machines. Workers exposed to hand vibration regularly and often might get two types of permanent illness: hand-arm vibration syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Vibration in hands

Exposure to vibration in the hands can cause tingling, numbness, and reduced grip strength in the early early stages. This can make it difficult to do your job or everyday tasks. If you are exposed to vibration for a long time, other symptoms may occur. Your fingers might become white (blanch), red and painful when you recover, which will reduce your ability to work in cold weather or damp conditions, e.g. outdoors.

havs gloves

Human vibrational frequencies

Human vibrational frequencies are the body’s resonant frequencies that, when excited, may be a cause of stress and discomfort or even health issues. At the resonant frequency, there is the maximum displacement between the organ and the skeletal structure, placing biodynamic strain on the body tissue involved.

The vibrational frequency can be tested by using frequency weighting filters or more detailed frequency analysis on unweighted vibration signals in 1/3 octaves.

havs hand arm vibration syndrome frequency

How can I test vibrational frequency?

Hand-arm vibration

Hand-arm vibration is a mechanical vibration that, when transmitted to the human hand-arm system, endangers workers’ health and safety, particularly those related to vascular, bone, or joint problems. The general requirements for measuring and evaluating hand-arm vibration exposure are specified in ISO 5349-1.

Hand-arm vibration testing

Hand-arm vibration testing is a way to measure how much vibration someone is exposed to overtime. This is done by measuring the magnitude of vibration at the grip zones or handles. You can use special adapters to measure your hand’s dimensions directly. It is recommended that you measure vibration levels in all three axes using the ISO 8041 human vibration meter.

Hand-arm vibration chart

The Hand Arm Vibration Chart shows the magnitude of frequency weighting for hand-arm vibration, in all directions, based on ISO 5349-1. The top of the curve at 8 to 10 Hz reflects the most harmful resonant frequencies for hand-arm vibrations.

Vibration exposure calculator

To calculate occupational exposures to vibrations, you need to use the exposure duration time of each operation and the vibration measurements. The calculation result is the cumulative exposure of the 8-hour energy-equivalent vibrations (daily vibration exposure).

Vibration limits

Exposure limits for hand-arm vibration:

5 m/s2 – daily exposure limit value standardized to 8 hours

2.5 m/s2 – daily exposure action value standardized to 8 hours

Exposure limits for whole-body vibration:

1.15 m/s2 – daily exposure limit value standardized to 8 hours

0.5 m/s2 – daily exposure action value standardized to 8 hours