Hand arm vibration injuries

Vibration white finger, hand arm vibration syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome are all forms of vibration injury. They are caused by the regular use of hand-held power tools or vibrating machinery at work. Exposure to excessive vibration damages the blood vessels, nerves and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. The damage is often permanent leaving victims with lasting symptoms which can be disabling.

Vibration white finger (VWF)

or white finger or dead finger are terms often used to describe all types of vibration injury to the hands. They actually describe one aspect of the condition where vibration has injured small blood vessels in one or more fingers causing them to change in colour or ‘blanch’ when exposed to the cold or wet.

It was subsequently recognised that vibration also injured the nerves supplying the fingers causing numbness and tingling together with a loss of strength and dexterity. Many victims suffered these symptoms without finger blanching. Since that time the government and professions have preferred to use the term hand arm vibration syndrome or HAVS to describe all the different components of vibration injury.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

is another condition which can be caused by the regular use of hand-held power tools. The syndrome is believed to be caused by vibration injuring a specific nerve in the wrist (the median nerve) causing numbness, tingling and pain in the fingers. It can often occur in conjunction with HAVS.

Symptoms

If you are suffering from hand arm vibration syndrome you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers
  • Loss of strength in the hands or grip
  • Loss of sensation in the fingers
  • One or more fingers go white in the cold or when wet

The level and severity of symptoms vary according to the individual and the extent of the exposure.

Causes

HAVS and carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in a wide range of trades and occupations. Listed below are some examples of the tools and machinery that can place the operator at risk of injury:

  • Concrete breakers, concrete pokers and wacker plates
  • Sanders, grinders and disc cutters
  • Power and hammer drills
  • Chainsaws, strimmers, brush cutters, hedge trimmers and powered mowers
  • Chipping hammers, scabblers or needle guns

How to make a claim

Your employer has a duty to provide you with a safe system of work including reducing the level of vibration exposure in your work to the lowest level reasonably practicable. If your employer has failed to do so then one of our specialist lawyers can help you make a claim and ensure you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. 

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Related Knowledge & Resources

Carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – The Vibration Puzzle

There is a long established association between vibration exposure and carpal tunnel syndrome.