Employees in the landscaping industry in California face multiple safety hazards, one of which is the frequently overlooked threat of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This occupational hazard threatens workers in all occupations in which they use vibrating power tools such as chain saws, grinders, drills and jackhammers. If HAVS are not treated timely and left to develop fully, the harm will be irreversible because there is no surgical procedure or other cure for it. If HAVS can be proved to be work-related, affected employees might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
HAVS is an occupational condition that develops gradually, at a rate that depends on the exposure level. Initial symptoms typically include numbness or tingling sensations in one or more fingers or the hands, and exposure to the cold could cause them to go white. At first, these sensations will likely last only minutes at a time.
If left untreated and exposure to vibration continues, permanent damage can occur. The frequency of attacks will increase, regardless of hot or cold weather and whether the victim is at work or not. As the muscles and the fine blood vessels in the hands suffer more damage, less blood will flow to the fingers, causing the loss of dexterity and touch perception.
Occupational diseases and injuries that develop gradually can pose challenges on various levels. With slowly deteriorating health and having to deal with medical expenses and the possible loss of the use of the hands, a worker with HAVS will likely need help to secure the workers’ compensation benefits to which he or she is entitled. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the California workers’ compensation insurance program can be a valuable asset in navigating a benefits claim.