Workers in Minnesota and elsewhere who are exposed to the vibrations of power tools for many years might not realize the dangers for serious injuries. Those who work in manufacturing, construction, forestry, food processing, agriculture and other industries that use power tools are at risk of developing a workplace injury called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger Syndrome (VWF). The tools that could cause this affliction include grinders, chainsaws, jackhammers, chippers, crushers, mowers, sorting conveyors and more.
This condition could ultimately lead to amputation of the fingertips due to the development of gangrene. It starts with symptoms that include short spells of numbness and tingling of the fingers, and develops into painful hand spasms that could last up to an hour at a time. It also causes the fingers to become a whitish color. With the progression of the condition, the victim might become unable to work with small objects like nuts and bolts, and buttoning a shirt might even become a problem.
The repeated hand vibrations over extended periods cause damage to the blood vessels and jeopardize the blood flow to the hands and fingers. This leaves the muscles and skin of the hands deprived of oxygen, which might cause the development of gangrene. The progression of the disease could take years before permanent harm occurs, but it could be stopped if it is diagnosed and treated upon the appearance of the first symptoms.
Minnesota workers who are exposed to the vibrations of power tools are wise to seek medical care as soon as they start feeling the telltale tingling or numbness of HAVS. The workers' compensation system of the state will likely take care of the medical bills, and like any other workplace injury, lost wages due to missed work will form part of the benefits. Many workers choose to utilize the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to navigate the claims process for them.