Hand-held power tools are valuable assets on the job. Workers use drills, jackhammers, saws, grinders, sanders and power wrenches to get tasks done more efficiently. Unfortunately, these tools can also cause health hazards because of the high levels of vibration they transmit to the operator. Many people in Illinois face the risk of workplace injuries from vibration.
Vibration on the job
When a worker uses a power tool for an extended period of time, the vibration of the device is transferred to the body. This vibration may affect the hands and arms, or it may affect the entire body, causing a range of serious symptoms. Intensive work with high-powered tools may lead to adverse effects in a relatively short time, as a Crystal Lake worker comp attorney knows.
Duration of exposure
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, vibration injuries may develop after a period of exposure lasting only two years. Symptoms may also be delayed in their appearance, with a possible latency period of more than 15 years. In many cases, workers are unaware of the hazards posed by continuous exposure to vibration until the damage is already done. Some employees are forced to retire or move to lighter duty after the scope of the problem becomes clear.
Effects of vibration on the human body
Why is extended vibration so dangerous to health? The human body contains millions of tiny capillaries, vessels and nerves that supply blood, nutrients, oxygen and muscle control. When these vessels and nerves are shaken by power tools for hours at a time, they function less efficiently. Blood flow decreases and oxygen saturation drops. Nerves transmit impulses more slowly. Vibration injuries of this kind often lead to partial or total disability.
Professions at risk
A Crystal Lake worker comp attorney is aware that a number of professions are at elevated risk of vibration injuries. Some of the most common danger areas include the following:
- Road work
- Building construction
- Dental work
Employees in these fields should investigate the risk of vibration exposure. They should take steps to reduce risk by updating equipment and using proper ergonomic procedures.
Vibration injuries on the job can be insidious and harmful. Have you been exposed to long-term vibration hazards? You may find it helpful to consider speaking with a Crystal Lake worker comp attorney.