n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Development and testing of a screening tool for mine workers with possible hand arm vibration syndrome : research article




Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a collective term for the symptoms arising from the prolonged use of vibrating hand tools. An investigation into the literature on available screening tools for HAVS was conducted. A screening tool is used for the quick identification of certain symptoms without a full medical check-up, and is for use by mine medical personnel for the determination of workers with HAVS symptoms and those without. Twenty-two non-exposed volunteers were tested with the screening tools and 42 rock drill operators. Only the rock drill operators had a medical examination and standardised tests for HAVS, to determine their HAVS diagnosis and severity. This diagnosis was used as the standard for the evaluation of existing screening tools and for the developed screening tool's sensitivity for the detection of HAVS symptoms. The screening tools chosen were a traditional tuning fork, a similar tuning fork but mounted into a box with a set excitation unit and a two-point discriminator set a 3mm, 6mm, and 10mm apart. The results showed that a screening questionnaire that specifically focuses on the symptoms of HAVS has better sensitivity and specificity to identify cases. A two-point discriminator with variable distance points, where patients have to distinguish between one pin prick and two, was able to identify HAVS cases when the distance was set at 3 mm. However, the sensitivity of the two-point discriminator was lower than the sensitivity of the questionnaire.


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