Vibration white finger is a condition which affects people’s hands and arms. It can be very painful and interrupt day-to-day life. It may affect you temporarily, or may last longer and cause permanent damage to your hands and arms. Vibration white finger is most commonly caused by the use of vibratory tools at work. You may also hear the condition referred to as white finger syndrome.
What are the symptoms of vibration white finger?
There are a range of symptoms that can be caused by vibration white finger. If you suffer from the condition, you may just get one, some or all of the below symptoms in your fingers, hands or arms:
• A tingling feeling
• Sensitivity to cold weather
• Loss of strength
• Loss of dexterity and grip
• Blanching or whiteness
• Mild, moderate or severe pain
• Throbbing and swelling
What are the causes?
Vibration white finger syndrome is most commonly caused by the use of vibratory tools such as:
• Concrete breakers
• Pneumatic drills
• Angle grinders
Using these tools – or similar ones – frequently can prevent your blood from flowing to the tips of your fingers. This is what causes the whiteness or blanching appearance which can be especially obvious in cold weather conditions. If you work in industries such as mining, construction and engineering you are at a higher risk of developing vibration white finger, because of how often vibratory tools are used in these types of working environments.
How can you prevent it?
It is important that you wear protective equipment at all times when you are working with vibratory tools like the ones listed above. You employer has a duty to provide you with functional and adequate protection in order to prevent vibration white finger or similar conditions from developing. The most common way to reduce the risk of developing the condition is to wear protective gloves, however your employer should also take steps to actively monitor how long you work with vibratory tools for every day in order to prevent the damage occurring.
The company you work for has a duty of care to protect you whilst at work. This includes making sure that you do not have too much exposure to potentially harmful vibratory machinery and tools. You should be given regular breaks from working with the tools, and should ideally be rotated with your coworkers so that you do not end up overusing vibratory machinery. If you think that your employer is putting you at risk of developing vibration white finger by not providing gloves or giving you the correct breaks, you should tell them. It is much better to stop further damage from happening now than to be in pain and regret it in the future.
If your employer does not provide you with adequate protective equipment or allow you enough break time away from vibratory tools, and you develop vibration white finger or a similar condition as a result, you might be able to make a claim for compensation against them with the help of an industrial disease solicitor. This can be especially helpful if you have had to take time off work or permanently leave your job due to the pain and discomfort you experience regularly.