If you are in an occupation where you regularly work with high power tools and you suffer from numbness, pain or stiffness in your hands, arms and fingers you might be either suffering from vibration white finger or hand arm vibration syndrome.

Vibration white finger syndrome and hand arm vibration syndrome are permanent conditions caused by working with high power vibratory tools. The use of such tools can cause damage to blood vessels, nerves and the joints in the body. Due to the way these tools are used most often the damage occurs in the arms, wrists and hands.

If you are think you are suffering from VWF, look out for the following vibration white finger symptoms:

  • Loss of strength and dexterity
  • Numbness, tingling and pain in hands and fingers
  • Throbbing and swelling of fingers and hands
  • Blanching and whiteness from the top of the fingers

Many people suffering from these vibration white finger symptoms often notice their symptoms worsen when the weather gets colder, however pain and discomfort are generally constantly noticed. You may also experience ‘flare-ups’ of the above symptoms, often lasting between 2 and 30 minutes.

Machinery that causes vibration white finger and hand arm vibration syndrome

Machinery that causes vibration white finger and hand arm vibration syndrome include:

  • Jackhammers and concrete breakers
  • Jigsaws and chainsaws
  • Powered sanders
  • Lawn mowers, strimmers and trimmers
  • Polishers
  • Drills
  • Brush cutters

However, any high power vibratory tool can cause vibration white finger symptoms and hand arm vibration symptoms to occur.

How to avoid developing these health conditions

In order to prevent developing syndromes like vibration white finger and hand arm vibration your employer must provide you with the proper PPE as well as training on how to use high power machinery safely. You should also be given plenty of breaks and where possible variation in work carried out.

If your employer has failed to provide you with the right protection equipment and measures and you do develop VWF or HAVS as a result you are likely eligible for compensation. You can claim compensation with the help of an industrial disease solicitor either after you leave the company or while you are still employed with the company, as long as your symptoms were first recognised within the last 3 years.

If you are unsure if you have vibration white finger or hand arm vibration you should first see your doctor as they can help you with a diagnosis and advice on how to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen. You should also inform your employer of your symptoms immediately and request the necessary changes to stop your condition to worsen. Remember, vibration white finger and hand arm vibration cause permanent damage to your body, and allowing for the condition to worsen over time will affect you for the rest of your life.

Another condition that can develop as a result of using high vibratory tools is repetitive strain injury. RSI’s are increasingly common in a wide number of jobs and can cause the sufferer with extreme discomfort, however this condition is not necessarily permanent and can be treated. If you are suffering from a repetitive strain injury caused at work you can also likely claim compensation in the same way as you would for VWF and HAVS.