What is vibration white finger?

Vibration white finger is a common outcome of using vibrating tools for a number of years. It is also known as ‘hand-arm vibration syndrome’ (HAVS), as sometimes symptoms can appear in not only fingers, but hands and arms too.

What causes vibration white finger?

Vibration white finger is caused by frequent use of hand held vibrating tools such as power drills and concrete breakers. The small, repetitive movements that take place when using these tools can damage the nerves over time, which causes the following symptoms…

Symptoms of vibration white finger

  • Tingling and numbness in one or more fingers are early signs of white finger. An individual may find difficulty in doing tasks such as fastening buttons and handling coins as a result.
  • Usually, one finger will turn white for a short while and start to ache. As vibration white finger gets worse, fingers turning white will happen more often and can lead to more (and sometimes all) fingers permanently turning white.

Treatments for vibration white finger

Once the damage is done to the fingers, there is no known treatment for it. You can, however, do certain things which can sometimes prevent white finger from getting worse:

  • Stop the use of vibrating tools
  • Stop smoking – this is known to make the disorder worse
  • Exercise your hands and body to improve circulation
  • Keep warm (especially the hands) and avoid cold triggers

How to reduce the risks

There is no cure for vibration white finger but, as mentioned above, there are things that can be done to prevent the condition from worsening. There are also things that can be done to reduce the risk of an individual developing the condition altogether.

HAVS Assessment

Employers should carry out a HAVS risk assessment to identify where there might be a risk from vibration and who is likely to be affected by it. An employer should then be able to see what needs to be done to comply with the law, for example, whether vibration control measures are needed. If any circumstances change within the workplace, then the employer must complete the risk assessment again. A regular review of the assessment is also necessary, to make sure everything that can be done is done to prevent white finger from occurring. Employees themselves can do certain things which will also reduce the risk of them developing vibration white finger.

These include: -       

Use low vibrating tools

Always use the correct tool for the job

Ensure tools have been correctly maintained and repaired

Keep cutting tools sharp

Reduce the amount of time you use a tool for in one go.  


See also...

Finger injury compensation claims

Hand injury compensation claims

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

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