8 Top Tips for Preventing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

  1. Stay warm, don’t get warm. It is a lot less work to keep fingers warm compared with getting already-cold fingers warm. So focus on employees starting out warm and staying warm with the help of a good pair of quality gloves. More than one set may be needed for employees if gloves or clothing are likely to become wet (see below). Gloves need to be a good fit and effective in keeping hands warm and dry. They should be selected to ensure that they not not stop employees working safely and do not present a risk of entanglement in machinery.
  2. Stay dry. Wet hands are cold hands, so you need to keep your hands dry. Provide waterproof gloves to keep moisture from getting in from the outside, but be mindful of overheating and getting sweaty; a layering system consisting of lightweight or mid-weight liner gloves worn under a warm, waterproof shell gives you the option to wear only the liner gloves when you’re hot and pull the outer shells on when you cool down.
  3. Block the wind. A waterproof glove, (as above), is naturally windproof, and protecting hands from icy winds will help keep them warm.
  4. Take care of your core. When your fingers are cold, it’s natural to focus on what you’re wearing on your hands. But by wearing layers and keeping your core warm you’ll be able to pump heat out to your extremities, like fingers and toes. Providing hot drinks and warm food can also help maintain a good core temperature.
  5. Avoid tight clothing. Watch straps, tight cuffs or gloves or mittens with wristbands can cause poor circulation and result in really chilly hands.
  6. Watch your grip! Hands stuck in a gripped position for a long-time can make it tougher for blood to reach them. Exercise your fingers and arms with simple moves every now and again, such as wiggling your fingers and making arm circles to improve circulation.
  7. Add heat. Hand warmer packets can be a great way to warm fingers, especially for people who are already prone to cold fingers or who have poor circulation.
  8. Keep work places warm and dry. Cold breezes and damp environments can make it difficult to stay warm. Likewise providing screening or shelter for outdoor workers in cold, wet or windy conditions will help.

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