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Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome – A Guide to Claiming Compensation

A variety of different conditions linked to the use of vibrating equipment and tools at work are collectively described as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS for short. Symptoms can be painful and are incurable. Therefore, employers must try to reduce the risks of work-related HAVS as part of their duty of care to employee safety. Failure to do so could enable employees to claim for any subsequent suffering. As such, we’ve answered some common questions on hand-arm vibration syndrome claims in this guide.

As part of our free initial consultation, a member of our team will assess your potential to claim compensation for HAVS. Following your call, we could partner you with a specialist work injury solicitor from our team. Importantly, if they agree to represent you, you’ll benefit from their No Win, No Fee service.

To discuss your hand-arm vibration claim with a specialist you can:

  • Phone our advice line on 0333 241 2519.
  • Use our live chat service.

You’ll find out more about when hand-arm vibration claims are possible throughout this guide and you are always welcome to call is if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

What is Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?

HAVS is a condition caused by working with vibrating tools such as sanders, grinders, pneumatic drills, chainsaws and jackhammers. Generally, HAVS is not a condition that develops in the short term. While symptoms can appear after a few months, it is more likely to affect those who’ve used vibrating power tools for prolonged periods over many years.

Symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome generally include:

  •  Tingling and numbness in the fingers, which can lead to a loss of sensation.
  • White fingers or Raynaud’s phenomenon, where the fingers turn white due to restricted blood circulation, followed by redness and pain upon warming.
  • Loss of manual dexterity, making it difficult to perform tasks that require fine movements.
  • Muscle weakness in the hands and arms.
  • Painful joints in the affected areas.

Due to the reduced grip, pain and distress caused by HAVS, sufferers may have a reduced ability to work and enjoy their normal activities.

Can I Make a Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome Claim?

The first thing you’ll need to prove when claiming compensation for HAVS is that you were owed a legal duty of care by your employer. Laws like the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2015 and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 usually makes this quite a straightforward process.

As a result of this duty of care, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) explains that to reduce the risk of HAVS at work, employers should:

  • Think about other ways of working to reduce the amount of exposure to vibration staff face.
  • Provide regular training on safe working practices when using power tools.
  • Consider replacing old tools with low-vibration alternatives.
  • Keep all power tools in good working order by maintaining them properly.
  • Teach staff about the symptoms of HAVS so that they can report early symptoms.
  • Allow staff regular risk breaks and consider role rotation to reduce working with power tools for prolonged periods.

It may be possible to seek compensation for HAVS by making a personal injury claim against your employer. This might be possible if you can prove that:

  • Legally, your employer owed you a duty of care.
  • Negligence by your employer means that duty was not upheld.
  • You have had a diagnosis of HAVS syndrome in the last three years which can be linked to your employer’s negligence.

We are happy to work with you to check if you might be entitled to claim HAVS compensation so please call our legal advisors today.

What Should I Do If I’m Worried About Hand-Arm Vibration at Work?

If you believe that your employment is putting you at risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome, you shouldn’t deal with it alone. Instead, you should:

  • Email your employer about your concerns as soon as you can. Your email could include any ideas you might have about changes to your working conditions.
  • Go to the doctor and explain any symptoms you’ve noticed.
  • Make sure your employer is told about any recommendations made by your GP.

It is important to discuss any problems with your employer because, if you don’t, they won’t have the opportunity to try and make changes. For example, they could ask an occupational health specialist to review your working conditions and advise on changes that might reduce your risk of HAVS.

If your employer doesn’t act (or ignores your email), they could be held accountable if you are later diagnosed with HAVS.

What Evidence Can Strengthen a HAVS Compensation Claim?

You will always need to provide evidence when suing your employer for a workplace injury. This should help to prove that a) you have a confirmed HAVS diagnosis, b) why your employer was to blame and c) how the condition has affected you.

Some examples of the types of evidence that could strengthen HAVS compensation claims include:

  • All of the correspondence you’ve had with your employer about your working conditions.
  • A copy of any medical records that confirm you’ve been diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome.
  • A diary that lists all of the dates that HAVS stopped you from working or when your normal hobbies or activities were prevented.
  • Details of any colleagues who can confirm your working conditions.

Any evidence you have can significantly strengthen your right to claim compensation so please have it to hand if you call for a free initial consultation.

Will I Lose My Job If I Claim HAVS Compensation?

Legally, you cannot be picked on, fired, demoted, treated differently or denied training opportunities for making a HAVS claim against your employer. So long as your claim is for a legitimate injury, you’re well within your rights to seek damages for your suffering.

If you have been singled out in any way on the basis that you asked for HAVS compensation, a solicitor may also be able to help you claim for constructive or unfair dismissal.

How Long Do I Have to Start a Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome Claim?

As per the time limits explained in the Limitation Act 1980, you have 3 years to begin personal injury claims for workplace accidents. This limitation period typically commences from the date your HAVS diagnosis was confirmed. This is referred to as your date of knowledge in the Limitation Act.

To avoid missing out on any HAVS compensation you’re entitled to, it’s a good idea to begin the claims process sooner rather than later. That’s because if you claim after the deadline, your case could be statute-barred.

To check whether you have enough time to claim for hand-arm vibration syndrome, please call our legal advisors now.

havs syndrome background

You can start the process of claiming compensation for HAVS with a completely free consultation.

Our solicitors, with 30+ years of experience, provide a 100% No Win, No Fee service, giving claimants a risk-free option to pursue the compensation they deserve.

Start a Claim

Or call free on 0333 241 2519 to speak to a specialist solicitor.

How Is Compensation for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome Calculated?

Successful HAVS compensation claims will generally result in a settlement based on general damages (for your pain and suffering) plus special damages (to cover any associated costs and expenses).

The general damages element of your claim is based on the severity of your suffering. Your solicitor can evaluate this by using your medical records but they may also require an independent medical report. This can be arranged on your behalf and then your solicitor might compare the results with previous cases and figures listed in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).

We’ve added some sample figures in our HAVS compensation table below but please note that these figures are not guaranteed.

  • £31,640 –  £38,430 compensation for persisting symptoms in younger individuals affecting both hands significantly that disrupt daily activities and necessitate a career change.
  • £16,760 – £31,640 where HAVS symptoms cause significant disruption to both work and home life, with episodes happening throughout the year.
  • £8,640 – £16,760 for moderate symptoms including individuals in their middle years who have either continued in their current employment or made slight adjustments to avoid excessive exposure to vibration. Symptoms predominantly arise during colder months.
  • £2,990 – £8,640 where symptoms are minor and infrequent, affecting only a few fingers, and have a minor impact on work or recreational activities.

Also, general damages can cover the loss of amenity. For instance, if your injuries stop you from using a computer or games console (which you enjoyed before), this could be factored into your claim.

If you’ve been left out-of-pocket because of your HAVS diagnosis, this could also be covered by your claim and you could be compensated for:

  • Lost income.
  • Medical costs.
  • Care and support expenses.
  • Travel costs.
  • The cost of devices or home modifications to help you deal with your symptoms.
  • Future loss of earnings.

To find out how much your HAVS claim might be worth, please feel free to call our team today.

Can I Claim for Psychological Suffering Caused by Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Knowing that HAVS cannot be fully cured and will always have an impact on your day-to-day activities can cause mental distress and conditions like depression. As such, this type of suffering could also form part of any settlement in your HAVS claim.

As with your physical injuries, psychological suffering will need to be proven by obtaining reports or medical records from qualified professionals.

Can Contractors Claim HAVS Compensation?

The duty of care towards employee welfare described earlier extends to all types of employees – not just full-time staff. Therefore, if you’ve been diagnosed with HAVS because of your employer’s negligence, we could help you to seek compensation even if you were a contractor, subcontractor or consultant.

To get further advice about your options for work-related HAVS claims, please call our legal advisors today.

Will I Need a Solicitor When Claiming Compensation for HAVS?

Legally, it’s perfectly fine for you to take on a hand-arm vibration syndrome claim against your employer and their insurers on your own. However, as claims can be based on your working conditions from years or even decades ago, they can become quite complex cases. Working with a solicitor from our team could make the process much easier and might result in you receiving a higher compensation payout.

Our solicitors can help by:

  • Collecting and verifying evidence to support your claim.
  • Filing your claim in the correct way and on time.
  • Communicating and negotiating on your behalf so you won’t need to deal with your employer’s insurers.
  • Sending updates about the progress of your claim at regular intervals.

In all cases, your solicitor will try to secure as much compensation for your suffering as you deserve.

Also, all HAVS claims are managed on a No Win, No Fee basis. To enable this to happen, you will sign a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) which means:

  • You don’t pay your solicitor for their work in advance.
  • No payment is required for your solicitor’s services.
  • A percentage of any compensation awarded will be deducted as a success fee if your claim is won.

Importantly, to ensure that you secure the bulk of any settlement paid, the success fee percentage is capped by law when using a CFA.

To check whether you could make a No Win, No Fee HAVS claim, why not speak to one of our advisors today?

Will I Need to Go to Court to Claim HAVS Compensation?

Our experience tells us that very few hand-arm vibration claims require court hearings. It is much more common for solicitors and insurers to deal with the claim out of court and to settle the claim amicably.

However, when that doesn’t happen i.e. if your employer offers too low a settlement or they deny liability, your solicitor may still take the claim to court as a last resort if they believe that your claim is strong enough.

Contacting Us About a Hand-Arm Vibration Claim

We’re ready to help if you need any advice or are thinking about claiming compensation for HAVS. Our team provides a no-obligation consultation for all callers so there’s nothing to risk by getting in touch.

To discuss your case with one of our specialist advisors, you can:

  • Call 0333 241 2519 for free.
  • Connect to our online chat service.

There is no pressure on you to go ahead with a claim and we’ll offer completely free advice during your call. Also, please remember that all hand-arm vibration claims are handled by our solicitors on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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