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Workplace injuries caused by vibrations

Many workers in Pennsylvania are injured every year while on the job. While some injuries are obvious, others, such as those resulting from years of exposure to vibration, may not be. Long-term exposure to vibration, from handheld tools to repetitive motions, can result in significant and debilitating injuries.

Vibration injuries are classed into two broad categories. Hand-arm vibration injuries result in loss of the ability to grip, loss of dexterity and loss of the sensation of touch. Whole-body vibration injuries can result in overall pain and lower back problems. Both result from repeated exposure to vibration.

Vibrations cause injuries by reducing the flow of blood to the affected area. When this happens, cells die at an increased rate as a result. Both nerve damage and vascular damage in the affected area may occur, lessening the worker's quality of life due to the loss of key functions. Victims may also suffer from chronic pain and other assorted problems due to the vibration injuries received. Some of the vibration injuries are severe enough to require amputations of fingers.

People who suffer an on-the-job injury are eligible to seek coverage from their employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. In some cases, either the employer or its carrier will dispute or deny that the injury resulted in the course of employment. In those cases, it is crucial that the injured worker to have thorough documentation demonstrating that the environment of the workplace resulted in the injury or condition. Those who have been in this position may want to consult with a workers' compensation attorney who can provide assistance in gathering the needed medical documentation to support the worker's claim should it be challenged.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, "Vibration Hazards in the Workplace: The Basics of Risk Assessment", Rob Bracuh, Feb. 1, 2015

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