Vibration white finger is one of several types of injury collectively referred to as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). The symptoms of this work-related condition are caused by impaired blood flow, nerve and muscle damage and include:
- Finger blanching
- Numbness and/ or tingling
- Loss of sensation
- Loss of dexterity
- Aches and pain
Like other HAVS conditions, this particular industrial illness is caused by regular exposure to high level vibration.
Equipment with high vibration risk
Compactors are among the types of equipment most at risk of causing vibration white finger and other HAVS conditions, along with:
- Angle grinders
- Chipping or hammering tools
- Clearing saws
- Hammer Drills
- Impact wrenches
- Needle guns
- Road Breakers
- Rotary Hammers
This type of equipment could be the cause of vibration injuries even if used only for short periods each day. In some cases, work injuries may occur after just a few minutes of use, while in others, it may take a few hours.
To prevent accidents at work and workers developing vibration-related illnesses, employers operating compactors and other high risk equipment are required to carry out risk assessments. This includes calculating the daily exposure level (referred to as the A(8) value) by combining the level (magnitude) of vibration and total daily exposure time. Guidance and detailed information regarding vibration exposure estimation can be found in the Health & Safety Executive’s HAV leaflet INDG175(rev2) and the L140 guidance book. Measurements of vibration must be done in compliance with BS EN ISO 5349-2:2002 and BS EN ISO 5349-1:2 001.
The A(8) value determines whether action to reduce the potential risk to employees is required. The action level above which management action programmes must be introduced was set by the Health & Safety Executive at an A(8) value of 2.8m/s2. Such programmes include informing workers of the potential risk, as well as finding ways to:
- Reduce vibration magnitude levels (by using alternative compactors, for example)
- Reduce exposure times (by rotating workers operating compactors more frequently, for instance)
Introducing more frequent recovery breaks is also an option in preventing industrial disease. Workers regularly using compactors or other high risk equipment should also be offered regular health screening.
Call for help
If you developed vibration white finger or any other vibration related illness at work, contact Accident Advice Helpline via our website or freephone helpline on 0800 689 0500 to see if you qualify for work injury compensation now.
Date Published: March 2, 2015
Author: Accident Advice