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Workers' compensation for hand-arm vibration syndrome

Pennsylvania workers who suffer an injury in a work accident or become ill due to work conditions are entitled to certain benefits. These workers' compensation benefits are also available to workers who suffer repetitive stress injuries. A commonly overlooked work injury is called hand-arm vibration syndrome.

This illness is typically seen in workers who frequently operate vibrating tools, such as jackhammers, grinders, chain saws and more. Due to the vibrations, workers often experience numbness and discoloration in the fingers. Over time, this can lead to damage to the nerves and blood vessels in the arms and hands. It is estimated that approximately two million people are at risk for hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Employers must take steps to protect workers who are at risk of this type of injury. Preventative measures can include taking short breaks every hour, wearing protective gloves, keeping hands warm and refraining from smoking. It is also recommended that workers grip vibrating tools as loosely as possible while still maintaining safety. Pennsylvania employers are required to take steps to provide workers with thorough safety training and protective equipment designed to prevent hand-arm vibration syndrome.

When a person suffers an injury on the job, it is likely that workers' compensation benefits are available. Medical treatment, recovery of lost wages from missed work and even vocational retraining may be needed for victims of this syndrome. Workers suffering from this or any other type of repetitive stress injury have every right to seek legal help to navigate the sometimes convoluted compensation process. 

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Hand-arm vibration syndrome", Oct. 25, 2015

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