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Shake Until it Hurts: The Perils and Pain of Workplace Vibration

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Jan 08, 2014 in Workers' Compensation

You try to sleep at night, and you simply can’t. The reason for your sleeplessness sounds so weird and sometimes so frightening that you don’t even want to tell your family and friends about it—much less talk to a doctor.

Your hands won’t stop shaking. Or they feel as if they’re shaking, but when you turn on the nightlight and look at them, they are perfectly still. And they ache all the time.

So instead of falling asleep, you worry. Is something seriously wrong with me? Am I going crazy?

No, you’re not crazy—but there might be something wrong. And it may be possible to fix it.

Vibration and Occupational Disease

Power tools, heavy industrial machinery, and even some motor vehicles have one thing in common: vibration. It may be a steady, relentless shake or a low-intensity rhythm, but day after day the operator of these devices is exposed to mechanical vibration in the course of his job.

It’s not healthy. Many people fail to realize how exposure to workplace vibrations constitutes a grave health hazard. The constant motion of jackhammers, metal punches, meat saws, or even nail guns and handheld drills can cause tiny tears in muscle, blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. Over time, those minor injuries accumulate to cause enduring and excruciating pain in the back or limbs, vascular diseases, and diminished flexibility and strength.

Of special concern is an ailment called hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), sometimes called vibration white finger or dead finger. Health care professionals identify it as a form of Raynaud’s disease, a disorder in which blood vessels narrow. When the blood vessels constrict, blood cannot flow to the skin, which turns pale. Caused by exposure to vibration in the upper limbs, HAVS is marked by pain and lost strength and dexterity in the hands. There is no known cure.

This Sounds Like a Case for Workers’ Comp

Long-term ailments that have been caused by repeated exposure to stress factors in the workplace are fully covered under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law. Under that law, any occupational illness should receive appropriate medical care, paid for by the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. In addition to medical expenses, the worker can claim reimbursement for some lost income, occupational and rehabilitative therapy, and a few other areas of compensation.

Are you a worker with a repetitive trauma injury who is facing a delay or denial of your claim in Pennsylvania? Reach out to Schmidt Kramer for help with your vibration or white finger work injury claim. Our worker disability law firm in Harrisburg can investigate your case and prove that on-the-job exposure to vibrations are responsible for your condition. Call us today at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 to schedule a FREE consultation with a lawyer and request a FREE copy of our report for central Pennsylvania residents, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured at Work?