Vibration Injuries in the Workplace – 5 Signs You’ve Been Affected by Vibratory Tools

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vibration injuries in the workplace
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott In: Industrial Disease

Vibration Injuries in the Workplace

Suffering from vibration injuries in the workplace is common among industrial workers working with tools such as jackhammers, chainsaws and pneumatic drills.

Figures from the Medical Research Council show that roughly 288,000 people in the UK are affected by some sort of vibration injury, such as vibration white finger, hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and Dupuytren’s contracture. Both of these conditions are caused by excessive use of vibratory tools.

These conditions are quite serious, and can affect your hand, arm, wrist and fingers making day to day tasks very difficult.

Although vibration injuries in the workplace are common, this doesn’t mean they are excusable. All employers in the UK have a duty to protect their staff, and this includes industrial workers too.

What Tools cause Vibration Injuries?

There are various types of hand held tools that can cause vibration injuries like vibration white finger to develop in the workplace. However, the most common tend to be road-breakers, demolition hammers, angle grinders and hammer drills.

These tools tend to exceed safe vibration exposure limits, which means that the amount that they vibrate is deemed harmful to users, causing more vibration injuries in the workplace.

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What are the Top 5 Signs that I am Suffering from Vibration White Finger?

Below are our top 5 signs that you have been affected by working with these tools.

1) Numbness in Fingers

Overuse of vibratory tools can lead to damage to blood vessels and therefore effects circulation to the hands.

Because of this, fingers can go numb at random. However, usually such an “attack” will not last any longer than an hour at a time.

2) White Fingers

For the same reasons as above, damage to the blood vessels affects the circulatory system and can lead to blanching of the finger tips.

As time goes on the whiteness can spread down to the knuckle of the affected fingers.

3) Loss of Dexterity

Excessive vibration from certain tools can also lead to a loss of manual dexterity in the hands.

A reduction in grip strength is common for those affected by vibration injuries in the workplace. Minor tasks that require intricate finger coordination such as doing up buttons on shirts or picking up loose change from a flat surface can become increasingly difficult.

4) Tingling in Hands and Arms

The reason why vibration white finger is sometimes referred to as hand arm vibration syndrome, or HAVS, is that sufferers and medical professionals have identified that the condition does not just affect the hands.

Pins and needles sensations up the arm towards the elbow can be quite common, although whole arm movement and dexterity are not often affected by the condition.

5) Aggravation during Cold Weather

All of the common vibration white finger symptoms listed above tend to get worse in cold weather.

The winter months can be difficult if you suffer from vibration white finger. Your fingertips will likely become numb and begin to turn white because they are usually the first to be affected.

The reason for this is that your circulation can be severely affected by the cold weather.

These symptoms usually improve and go back to normal when your body returns to normal room temperature.

Do these symptoms of vibration injuries in the workplace sound familiar? Then get in touch.

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How can I Prevent Vibration White Finger?

Vibration white finger isn’t inevitable if you work with vibratory tools at work. In fact, your superiors should be fully trained on how to prevent their employees from suffering with vibration white finger, hand arm vibration syndrome or other vibration-related conditions.

Your employer should be aware that vibration is a serious health issue and can cause nerve damage, which is why they must provide you with adequate, vibration-resistant gloves.

You should also be given plenty of breaks so that you do not exceed vibration exposure limits over the course of your work day.

Finally, your employer must carry out regular checks on equipment and staff health, and rectify any issues as and when they arise.

Can I Claim Compensation for Vibration Injuries in the Workplace?

Vibration white finger is one of the most common claim types our industrial team see on a daily basis, second only to hearing loss.

Often, vibration injuries and hearing loss in the workplace go hand in hand due to the noise levels that vibratory tools can reach.

If you have worked with any vibratory tools or have had a diagnosis for VWF, HAVS or vibration induced carpal tunnel in the last three years, you may be eligible to claim compensation for your suffering.

Compensation can help you move forward with your life. If you or anyone you know has suffered vibration injuries in the workplace, we can help.

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