Air Hammer Operators

  • David J. GawkrodgerEmail author
  • Mili Shah
Reference work entry


Air hammer (handheld power tools) operators encounter a variety of irritants as well-recognized contact allergens due to the labor-intensive nature of occupation in industries such as forestry, construction, and, less commonly, the dental professionals.

Laborers are known to develop hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) which is characterized by vascular, neurological, and musculoskeletal symptoms.

Vibrations emitted between 30 and 300 Hz are strongly associated with the development of HAVS.

Numerous other variables influence the development of HAVS, including type of vibration, ambient temperature, and smoking status; hence the latency period varies considerably.

The neurological component of HAVS is significantly debilitating and can interfere in daily activities resulting in a reduced quality of life.

Prevention is the focus of management of HAVS with avoidance of further vibration exposure being crucial.


Air hammer operators Hand-arm vibration syndrome Handheld power tools Occupational disease 


  1. Bast-Pettersen R, Ulvestad B, Færden K, Clemm TA, Olsen R, Ellingsen DG, Nordby KC (2017) Tremor and hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) in road maintenance workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 90(1):93–106. Epub 2016 Oct 28. Scholar
  2. Bovenzi M (1990) Medical aspects of hand–arm vibration syndrome. Int J Ind Ergon 6:61–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brammer A, Taylor W, Lundborg G (1987) Sensorineural stages of hand-arm vibration syndrome. Scand J Work Environ Health 13:279–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cederlund R, Nordenskioeld U, Lundborg G (2001) Hand-arm vibration exposure influences performance of daily activities. Disabil Rehabil 23:570–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cherniack M (1990) Raynaud’s phenomenon of occupational origin. Arch Intern Med 150:519–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chetter I, Kent P, Ketser R (1998) The hand arm vibration syndrome: a review. Cardiovasc Surg 6:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Friden J (2001) Vibration damage to the hand: clinical presentation, prognosis and length and severity of vibration required. J Hand Surg (Br) 26:471–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gemne G, Pyyko I, Taylor W, Pelmear P (1987) The Stockholm workshop scale for the classification of cold-induced Raynaud’s phenomenon in the hand-arm vibration syndrome (revision of the Taylor-Pelmear scale). Scand J Work Environ Health 13:275–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Griffin M (1994) Foundations of hand-transmitted vibration standards. Nagoya J Med Sci 57:147–164PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Griffin M, Bovenzi M (2000) The diagnosis of disorders caused by hand-transmitted vibration: Southampton workshop. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 75:1–5Google Scholar
  11. Hagberg M (2002) Clinical assessment of musculoskeletal disorders in workers exposed to hand-arm vibration. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 75:97–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harada N, Mahbub M (2008) Diagnosis of vascular injuries caused by hand-transmitted vibration. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 81:507–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Health and Safety Executive (2005) The control of vibration at work – guidance on regulations. HSE Books, Sudbury/Suffolk, pp 1–135Google Scholar
  14. Health and Safety Executive (2017) Gloves and warm clothing URL. Accessed 7 Oct 2017
  15. Hewitt S, Dong RG, Welcome DE, McDowell TW (2015) Anti-vibration gloves? Ann Occup Hyg 59(2):127–141. Epub 2014 Nov 7. Scholar
  16. House R, Wills M, Liss G, Switzer-McIntyre S, Manno M, Lander L (2009) Upper extremity disability in workers with hand-arm vibration syndrome. Occup Med 59:167–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. House R, Wills M, Liss G, Switzer-McIntyre S, Lander L, Jiang D (2012) DASH work module in workers with hand-arm vibration syndrome. Occup Med (Lond) 62(6):448–450. Epub 2012 Jul 31. Scholar
  18. ILO (2002) Recommendation concerning the list of occupational diseases and the recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases. ILO List 194:1–12Google Scholar
  19. Lawson I, McGeoch L (2003) A medical assessment process for a large volume of medico-legal compensation claims for hand-arm vibration syndrome. Occup Med 53:302–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Letz R, Cherniack M, Gerr F, Hershman D, Pace D (1992) A cross sectional epidemiological survey of shipyard workers exposed to hand-arm vibration. Br J Ind Med 49:15–20Google Scholar
  21. Mahbub M, Harada N (2011) Review of different quantification methods for the diagnosis of digital vascular abnormalities in hand-arm vibration syndrome. J Occup Health 53(4):241–249. Epub 2011 May 18. Scholar
  22. Mahbub MH, Kurozawa Y, Ishitake T, Kume Y, Miyashita K, Sakakibara H, Sato S, Toibana N, Harada N (2015) A systematic review of diagnostic performance of quantitative tests to assess musculoskeletal disorders in hand-arm vibration syndrome. Ind Health 53(5):391–397. Epub 2015 Jun 6. Scholar
  23. Mason H, Poole K (2004) Clinical testing and the management of individuals exposed to hand-transmitted vibration: an evidence review. Faculty of Occupational Medicine, London, pp 1–208Google Scholar
  24. McDowell TW, Warren C, Welcome DE, Dong RG (2012) Laboratory and field measurements and evaluations of vibration at the handles of riveting hammers. Ann Occup Hyg 56(8):911–924. Epub 2012 Apr 26. Scholar
  25. Meloni M, Torrazza M, Ledda R (2004) Effectiveness of therapy with iloprost in hand-arm vibration syndrome. Occup Med 54:261–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Okada A (1990) Pathogenetic mechanism of vibration induced white finger. Recent findings and speculation. In: Proceedings of the fifth international conference on the hand-arm vibration syndrome. Kyori Press, KanazawaGoogle Scholar
  27. Palmer K, Griffin M, Syddall H, Pannett B, Coggon D (2000) Prevalence and pattern of occupational exposures to hand transmitted vibration in Great Britain: findings from a national survey. Occup Environ Med 57:218–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Palmer K, Griffin M, Syddall H, Pannett B, Cooper C, Coggon D (2001) Risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome according to occupation and sources of exposure to hand-transmitted vibration: a national survey. Am J Ind Med 39:389–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Palmer K, Griffin M, Syddall H (2002) Raynaud’s phenomenon, vibration induced white finger, and difficulties in hearing. Occup Med 59:640–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Palmer K, Harris E, Coggon D (2007) Carpal tunnel syndrome and its relation to occupation: a systemic literature review. Occup Med 57:57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pelmear P (2003) The clinical assessment of hand-arm vibration syndrome. Occup Med 53:337–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Piligian G, Herbet R, Hearns M, Dropkin J, Lamdsbergis P, Cherniack M (2000) Evaluation and management of chronic work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the distal upper extremity. Am J Ind Med 37:75–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Poole K, Mason H (2005) Disability in the upper extremity and quality of life in hand-arm vibration syndrome. Disabil Rehabil 27:1373–1380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Raju SG, Rogness O, Persson M, Bain J, Riley D (2011) Vibration from a riveting hammer causes severe nerve damage in the rat tail model. Muscle Nerve 44(5):795–804. Scholar
  35. Sakakibara H, Hashiguchi T, Furuta M, Kondo T, Miyao M, Yamada S (1991) Circulatory disturbances of the foot in vibration syndrome. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 63:145–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sauni R, Toivio P, Pääkkönen R, Malmström J, Uitti J (2015) Work disability after diagnosis of hand-arm vibration syndrome. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 88(8):1061–1068. Epub 2015 Feb 21. Scholar
  37. Stankovic SJ, Jankovic SM, Borjanovic SS, Tenjovic LR, Popevic MB, Barjaktarovic MC (2011) Rewarming curves and derived parameters in the diagnosis of hand-arm vibration syndrome. Med Lav 102(5):445–454. Scholar
  38. Takeuchi T, Fatasuka M, Imanishi H, Yamada S (1986) Pathological changes observed in the finger biopsies of patients with vibration-induced white finger syndrome. Scand J Work Environ Health 12:280–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Virokannas H, Anttonen H, Pramila S (1991) Combined effect of hand-arm vibration and smoking on white finger in different age groups. Arch Complex Environ Stud 3:7–12Google Scholar
  40. Welcome DE, Dong RG, Xu XS, Warren C, McDowell TW (2016) Tool-specific performance of vibration-reducing gloves for attenuating fingers-transmitted vibration. Occup Ergon 13(1):23–44. Scholar
  41. Ye Y, Griffin MJ (2017) Assessment of thermotactile and vibrotactile thresholds for detecting sensorineural components of the hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Int Arch Occup Environ Health. [Epub ahead of print]. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oncology and Human MetabolismUniversity of Sheffield Medical SchoolSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyRoyal Liverpool HospitalLiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations