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Health Hazards > Vibration

Chainsaws produce high levels of vibration, which can cause permanent damage to hands and arms. The risk of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is dependent on the following factors:

  • vibration levels,
  • length of time the saw is used,
  • position and grips of the saw, and
  • coldness and wetness of the environment and the worker.

Exposure to HAVS could produce several adverse health effects such as the following:

  • circulatory disturbances, such as vibration white finger (VWF),
  • sensory nerve damage, and
  • muscle, bone and joint injury.

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Early Signs and Symptoms Top
  • Intermittent (comes and goes) tingling (needles and pins sensation) of one or more fingers.

  • Blanching (white-color) of fingertips.

  • Pain in fingers that subsides in a short time.

Later Signs and Symptoms Top
  • Loss of sense of touch or numbness.

  • Blanching of entire fingers.

  • Loss of grip strength in hand and fingers.

  • Severe pain in fingers.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or pressure on nerves in a wrist.

  • Pain and loss of strength in arms.

  • Loss of finger dexterity or coordination.

Possible Solutions/Controls Top
  • Hand-held chain sawChoose chain saws with the lowest vibration level suitable for the job.

  • Allow adequate rest periods.

  • Rotate jobs.

  • Wear warm gloves when in cold temperatures, or anti-vibration gloves.

  • Perform routine chain saw maintenance.

  • Instruct workers not to grip saws too tightly.

  • Remind workers that smoking decreases blood flow to fingers.

  • Advise workers to exercise hands and fingers frequently to increase blood flow.

  • Educate workers and supervisors about vibration hazards and encourage them to report signs and symptoms of HAVS.

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