Preventing Dupuytren’s Contracture in the WorkplaceThe steps to mitigate the risk of developing Dupuytren’s Contracture in the workplace
How To Prevent Dupuytren’s Contraction in the Workplace
How can Dupuytren’s Contraction be prevented in the workplace?
As the propensity for Dupuytren Disease and its associated contracture are frequently passed on genetically, health screening when employing new personnel should flag up anyone who is at a high risk of developing the condition and so suitable methods and procedures can be identified to minimise the risks to those particular personnel.
On a wider basis, you are most a risk if you regularly use hammer action or any kind of vibrating tools for more than around 15 minutes per day or rotary and other action tools for more than around one hour per day.
The early signs of vibration-related issues include tingling and numbness in the fingers, loss of sensation and strength within the hand and fingers, and occasionally in the cold and wet the finger tips might go white, then red; the transition between being very painful. If you continue to use vibrating tools the symptoms are most likely to get worse; the tingling and loss of strength can become permanent, and the white finger aspect could become more frequent or spread to more digits.
It is the responsibility of the employer to provide low-vibration tools wherever possible, or to look into different methods of achieving the same result as using vibrating tools. Tools should always be inspected and regularly tested to ensure they are functioning properly and not vibrating excessively through faults or general wear. Time spent using vibrating tools should be strictly monitored and controlled to avoid prolonged exposure. The HSE has a wealth of information for employers and employees on how to effectively minimise the risk from vibrating tools.
According to the Health and Safety Executive employers must provide health surveillance for all employees who, despite any action to control risk, are likely to be exposed to vibration above the Exposure Action Value. This includes:
- Indentifying anyone exposed to, or about to be exposed to vibration who may be at particular risk; for example anyone with blood circulatory diseases such as Raynaud’s disease
- Identifying any vibration-related disease at an early stage in employees who regularly use vibrating tools
- Checking the effectiveness of the work-place vibration control measures
While it is impossible to completely rule out the possibility of any employee developing Dupuytren’s Contracture, it is the responsibility of the employer to make sure that all that can be done to minimise the risk of injury to any employee is implemented properly.
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Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, David Gower, Graham Gooch, Bill Nighy, and even the author J.M. Barrie have all suffered from the condition over the years. It is rumoured that J.M. Barrie, author of the legendary Peter Pan, used his own...