We are leading specialists in Vibration White Finger / Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.
Hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) or Vibration White Finger (VWF) is a secondary form of Raynaud’s Syndrome, an industrial injury triggered by continuous use of vibrating hand held machinery. VWF is the common term adopted by the general public although the condition is also historically referred to as ‘dead finger’.
The symptoms of VWF are the vascular component of HAVS and affect the blood vessels, nerves, muscles, connective tissues and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. Most people complain of one or more of the following common symptoms;
- Tingling, whiteness or numbness in the fingers – this may affect the tips of the fingers in mild cases or the whole finger in more severe cases. Feeling and sensation may be lost and these symptoms more frequently occur in cold weather.
- Fingers changing colour – usually in the cold and initially pale or white and then changing colour to red.
- Loss of manual dexterity – usually in the cold weather but not limited to work activities. This may be experienced by a reduced grip strength or an inability to pick up a small item like a bolt or screw. This symptom can affect hobbies and is usually noticed when doing so for example difficulty fishing or gardening, washing the car or perhaps when outside watching outdoor sports like rugby or football.
HAVS & VWF caused by exposure to vibration at work is completely preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. The HSE has issued advice if you regularly use hand held or hand guided power tools and machines such as these you are at risk:
- Concrete breakers, concrete pokers
- Sanders, grinders, disc cutters
- Hammer drills
- Chipping hammers
- Chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers
- Powered mowers
- Scabblers or needle guns
You are also at risk if you hold work pieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders and particularly at risk if you regularly operate;
- Hammer action tools for more than about 15 minutes per day, or
- Some rotary and other action tools for more than about one hour per day
There are various methods of assessing VWF / HAVS and the first was published in 1975 and called the Taylor – Pelmear scale and then some years later in 1987 the Stockholm scale was introduced. VWF was listed as a prescribed disease in the UK in 1985. Specific legislation in the form of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 was created under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to control, govern and prevent exposure to vibration occurring within the UK.
HAVS is a ‘divisible’ disease meaning that the harm caused can be apportioned amongst those employers who have exposed an employee to vibration throughout the claimant’s career. The condition is also dose related and cumulative. There is typically a latency period between exposure and onset of symptoms, which can be months or years depending upon the daily dose of exposure and individual susceptibility.
The ‘date of guilty’ knowledge in heavy industry is January 1976, which means if your exposure pre-dates this date then you are prohibited from making a claim.
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