Use of Vibrating Power Tools
The use of vibrating power tools may cause injuries to employees. The constant vibration of power tools may result in numb, tingly fingers, and it eventually may cause medical conditions, such as Raynaud's phenomenon or "white fingers." Tools associated with Raynaud's include chainsaws, drills, air chisels, jackhammers, and concrete saws. It usually occurs in the fingers of whichever hand grips the tool. A vibration-induced injury generally progresses such that the hands and fingers start to feel spongy, and if exposure to the vibration is not removed, there may be a loss of feeling and manual dexterity. For workers who depend on their hands for their livelihoods, these vibration-induced injuries may be terrifying. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to help you recover benefits for your injuries.Injuries Caused by the Use of Vibrating Power Tools
Hand-arm vibration syndrome is a medical term for symptoms in the fingers, hands, and arms related to vibration injuries. These injuries are divided into three groups (neurological, vascular, and musculoskeletal), but they are alike in their early symptoms of tingling and numbness as well as their later symptoms like limited dexterity. If a person suffers neurological vibration damage, it is irreversible and may require the worker to stay off work permanently. The worker might have trouble even with basic tasks, such as inserting a key into a lock.
When Raynaud's phenomenon develops due to a narrowing of the small blood vessels, the extremities change color and may be painful. Often, Raynaud's worsens in the cold or under emotional stress. It is not life-threatening, but when an attack occurs, a worker may not be able to work, and it may worsen if a worker continues to be exposed to whichever tools caused the problem.
You should seek medical attention if you have symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome or Raynaud's. There are ways to improve a work environment to avoid these problems, at least if they have not progressed too far. For example, switching to devices that dampen or protect the worker from vibrations or maintaining tools better and wearing gloves to keep their hands warm may reduce their exposure to vibrations.
Your employer should notify its insurer if you develop Raynaud's or any arm-hand vibration syndrome condition. Benefits that may be available include coverage for all of your medical costs related to your injuries, including medical mileage and disability benefits. The amount of disability benefits depends on the extent of your disability—whether you are totally, partially, temporarily, or permanently disabled. In some cases, a worker may no longer work in the same field as a result of injuries sustained due to mechanical vibrations. Vocational rehabilitation to help you find a different job in a different field may be available.Enlist a Knowledgeable Workers' Compensation Attorney in the Boston Area
Many workers in the construction industry face the possibility of serious injuries due to their use of vibrating power tools on the job. It is important to stop working with these tools before your condition progresses and becomes irreversible, and to consult an experienced Boston workers' compensation lawyer about your options. The process of obtaining workers' compensation benefits may not be as straightforward as you might expect it to be. At Pulgini & Norton, our job injury attorneys advise and represent injured workers in Lowell, Somerville, and Braintree, as well as other Massachusetts communities. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation.