chapter  10
5 Pages

The development of legal controls on hand–arm vibration exposure

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a condition which is caused by pro-

longed exposure of the hand/arm system to continuous vibration. It is essentially

a modern disease. There are few reports of conditions which can be identified

with HAVS before the start of the twentieth century. One of the first studies to

describe the condition and its causes was carried out by Dr Alice Hamilton, a

physician working for the US Department of Labor in 1917-1918. She studied

the effects on workers in stone quarries in Indiana and described the symptoms

and discussed the relationship between the cause of the condition (vibration

exposure) and the trigger for attacks of ‘white finger’ (exposure to cold) in a

statistical digest published by her department later in 1918. Other important

work was carried out in Italy.