If you operate any sort of machinery at work that vibrates, you run the risk of developing a condition known as hand arm vibration syndrome or HAVS. It is a condition commonly reported that many workers develop which includes vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome because of the jobs they do. If you have developed and suffer from HAVS, you could be entitled to file a hand arm vibration syndrome claim against your employer if it is found there were negligent in the duty to keep you safe from harm in the workplace.
The problem is that the condition can develop over time, taking many years for any symptoms to become apparent. As such, you may find that many of the symptoms go unnoticed until much later on in time. However, you may still be entitled to file for compensation and as such it is best to discuss your case with a solicitor who specialises in hand, arm vibration syndrome in the workplace.
The Definition of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Injuries
With HAVS, there are 3 main categories of injuries that you may develop which are detailed below:
Vascular Injuries Explained
Vascular injuries include vibration white finger which is when blood flow to your hands and fingers are negatively impacted which happens as a result of the constant vibration caused by certain types of machinery and equipment found in the workplace. The vibration damages small blood vessels and these then constrict, resulting in less blood flowing to your hands and fingers. The weather has an impact with colder conditions being the trigger. An affected area of skinchanges colour with fingers turning white and when things get back to “normal”, the pain caused can be quite considerable.
Musculoskeletal Injuries Explained
You can suffer from various types of musculoskeletal injuries as a result of developing hand arm vibration syndrome which includes arthritis and tendinitis as well as having to cope with varying degrees of reduced mobility. The condition can also negatively impact the muscle fibres found in and around your hands with the end result being you find it harder to grip and hold onto things.
Neurological Injuries Explained
As previously mentioned, many of the symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome can take a long to appear and a lot of the time, they go unnoticed and unreported. The problem is that the symptoms are all too often cause irreversible neurological damage. The main symptoms include the following:
- Tingling in your hands and fingers
- Reduced grip
A lot of people believe these symptoms are associated with ageing or tiredness, whereas in fact, it has been medically proved that they are symptoms of having developed hand arm vibration syndrome.
What are the Most Common Symptoms Associated with HAVS?
The most common symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome are detailed below:
- Obvious white patches that appear on your skin more especially when the weather is colder
- A tingling, uncomfortable sensation in affected fingers
- A general numbness in one or several of your fingers
- A total loss of feeling and sensation in affected fingers
- Muscle damage which results in a reduced capacity to grip things
- Reduced mobility in your hands and fingers
Are There Any HAVS Regulations in the Workplace?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, states that all workers and employees must be kept safe from harm in the workplace. On top of this, employers are legally required to ensure that staff who use machinery and equipment that vibrates, are not put at risk of developing HAVS which is covered by the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations Act 2005. Your employer’s legal responsibility towards you under the Act is as follows:
- That you take frequent breaks when operating tools, machinery and equipment that vibrates
- To provide you with the appropriate safety equipment which must include anti-vibration gloves when you use tools that vibrate or operate machinery that vibrates
- That the workplace boasts a reasonable temperature for you to work in
- To minimise the risk of developing HAVS by providing you with the correct safety equipment
- That you are given the correct initial and ongoing training in Health and Safety at work
It is worth noting that some symptoms associated with HAVS can take 10 or so years to be correctly diagnosed. However, just because your condition is diagnosed years later, it does not mean that you cannot make a hand arm vibration syndrome claim against a negligent employer.
What Amount of HAVS Compensation Could I Receive?
When it comes to the amount of compensation you may be awarded in a successful hand arm vibration syndrome claim, this would depend on several factors which are detailed below:
- The severity of your condition
- How your condition impacts your daily life
- How your condition impacts your ability to work
The amount of compensation you may receive having developed HAVS is as follows:
- For conditions that have little effect on your daily life and which affects a few fingers, you may be awarded anything from £2,390 to £6,890
- For conditions that cause moderate damage that cause you discomfort more especially when the weather is colder, you may be awarded anything from £6,890 to £13,360
- For conditions that cause a lot of pain and discomfort, you may be awarded anything from £13,360 to £25,220
It is worth noting that for very serious cases of HAVS which negatively impact your daily life and ability to work, you may be awarded anything from £25,220 to £30,630 in a successful hand arm vibration syndrome claim.
How Do I Prove Negligence In A Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Claim?
In many cases, the symptoms associated with HAVS go unnoticed and therefore unreported for many years. However, thanks to modern day health testing, it is possible to determine the severity of hand arm vibration syndrome and why you may have developed the condition through the work you do or used to do. As such, even if time has passed, the fact that you used to operate machinery or equipment that vibrated or used tools that vibrated in the past, you may still be able to file a HAVS claim for compensation against a negligent employer.
In order to strengthen your case, you should gather as much evidence as possible which includes witness statements, their contact details, medical reports on your condition and whether any other employees also developed hand arm vibration syndrome at work.
Should I Make a HAVS Claim Against my Employer?
Although many employees worry about filing a HAVS claim against an employer for fear of being treated unfairly or sacked from their jobs, if you develop any of the symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome and you can prove that your employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe from harm in the workplace, you have every right to seek compensation for the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses you incurred. More especially if your condition prevents you from working again.
What Are My Rights if I Develop HAVS at Work?
All employees have rights in the workplace which keeps them safe from harm, being treated unfairly or discriminated against should they decide to file a HAVS claim against a negligent employer. Your rights are as follows:
- That if you suffer an accident at work that leaves you injured, you receive the compensation you are entitled to
- That even if you file a claim for compensation from your employer, you job is safe
Could I Be Sacked for Filing a HAVS Claim Against My Employer?
Your employer cannot sack you for filing a hand, arm vibration syndrome claim against them and if they do, you would be entitled to file an unfair dismissal against them, providing there are no other valid reasons for your dismissal. If you suffer any sort of injury at work through no fault of your own but rather because of employer negligence or the error of a workmate, you have every right to seek the compensation you rightly deserve for all the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses you incurred.
Working With a Solicitor on a No Win No Fee Basis
Because work-related compensation claims tend to be long-drawn out legal procedures, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible. There is a 3 year time limit associated with all personal injury claims and although it seems like long enough, gathering all the evidence and other relevant information needed to file a successful claim against a negligent employer takes time and a lot of effort.
Once a solicitor has assessed you case which they would do in an initial consultation which is typically free of charge. Once this is established a solicitor would offer to work on your claim on a No Win No Fee basis which means you would only pay a “success fee” which is the percentage you agreed with the solicitor when signing the Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA). This is a legal contract that sets out the “terms and conditions” of the agreement. Should your hand arm vibration syndrome claim not be successful, there would be nothing to pay for the legal representation you received.