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Vibration white finger claims

Working regularly with vibrating tools or vibrating machinery no matter how powerful or large they are, can result in a repetitive strain-like injury known as vibration white finger.

Vibration white finger (VWF) is a common industrial injury also known as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Employers have a duty of care to protect all employees to make sure they’re trained properly on how to handle vibrating tools correctly, and provide them with personal protective equipment to prevent conditions such as vibration white finger from occurring.

However, this doesn’t always happen, and an employer’s negligence can lead to industrial injuries.

If you’ve developed vibration white finger because of regular, extended use of vibrating tools and you believe your employer is to blame, you might be entitled to make a vibration white finger claim.

To find out more about making a personal injury claim, get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, you can fill in one of the secure contact forms on this page and they’ll call you back.

What is Vibration White Finger (VWF)

Vibration white finger is an extremely painful disorder that affects the hands and fingers. It is caused by regular exposure to vibrating tools, especially drills and grinders.

Symptoms of vibration white finger include pain, numbness, swelling and discolouration in the fingers, as well as decreased grip strength and dexterity.

Vibration white finger has been linked with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and circulatory problems.

The severity of vibration white finger can be reduced through early diagnosis and treatment involving drugs, exercise routines, surgery and other therapies.

If you suffer with vibration white finger and believe your injury happened because your employer failed to take steps to prevent it, then you might be entitled to claim compensation. Personal injury claims are intended to cover the impact your injury has had on your life, and the expenses it’s caused.

Vibration White Finger symptoms

Vibration white finger, or hand-arm vibration syndrome is an industrial injury affecting tens of thousands of workers around the world.

Vibration white finger affects the victim’s blood circulation and impacts the blood vessels, nerves, muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. It can cause pain as well as numbness, swelling and discolouration in the fingers. It is triggered by the continuous use of vibrating hand-held tools and machinery.

Vibration white finger can result in a number of common symptoms. Victims often complain of tingling whiteness or numbness in the fingers. As the condition worsens, the whole finger, down to the knuckle, may become white and the feeling may be lost.

Workers who suffer from vibration white finger also complain of spasms or attacks which when they occur cause considerable pain and reduced grip strength. These are usually triggered by exposure to cold weather or holding cold objects.

If exposure to vibration continues over time, the symptoms can worsen and even become permanent. In extreme cases, the victim may be forced to lose their finger or fingers.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Vibration white finger has been linked to carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and circulatory problems.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful disorder of the hand and wrist. It occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve as it runs through a small tunnel (the carpal tunnel) in your wrist. The result can be numbness or tingling in your fingers and thumb. This is because the muscles that control these areas are no longer receiving signals from your nerve endings.

Arthritis refers to any joint disease where there are signs of inflammation or damage to cartilage – two pieces of connective tissue that cushion bones at joints such as elbows or knees – resulting in pain and swelling in those joints. Arthritic symptoms include stiffness, tenderness, swelling, warmth around affected area(s), loss of range-of-motion (ROM) and limited ability to perform everyday tasks like opening jars with ease.

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What causes vibration white finger?

Power tools and the use of other vibrating equipment is the primary cause of VWF. Because of this, workers in the construction industries are at the highest risk of developing VWF.

When working with vibrating power tools, it is often instinctive to use a tight grip. Gripping vibrating tools for an extended period of time can affect blood circulation and lead to VWF and other injuries to the hands.

Construction workers are also known to work long hours and have prolonged exposure to vibrations with few breaks. This can also increase your risk of VWF.

The worst vibrating tools that lead to vibration white finger syndrome expel vibrations between 5 to 20 hertz. While there is a large variety of tools that can induce VWF, the most common include:

  • pneumatic drills
  • jack hammers
  • sanders
  • concrete breakers
  • chain saws
  • compactors
  • hedge trimmers
  • lawn mowers

Early diagnosis and treatment of vibration white finger

Early diagnosis and treatment is important in reducing the severity of vibration white finger. Treatment can involve the use of drugs, exercise routines, surgery and other physical therapies.

The time it takes to recover from vibration white finger varies from person to person but generally speaking a patient who has not had symptoms for long will likely recover quickly. However, people with this condition might find that their symptoms return if they continue working in high-risk environments or using vibrating tools at work.

It’s usually a good idea not to return to work and back using vibrating tools until your symptoms have gone away. This is because even though people with vibration white finger might have recovered from their initial symptoms, it still takes time for them to get back full dexterity in their hands again.

It’s also possible that the nerves in their hands may be irreversibly damaged by continued exposure to vibration which could result in permanent damage and/or loss of sensitivity.

Employers have a duty of care to protect you against workplace injuries

If using power tools is an integral part of your job, your employer should be taking preventative measures to ensure VWF doesn’t happen to you.

The Health and Safety Executive have issued guidance for employers on how to reduce the risk of vibration white finger (VWF) and other repetitive strain injuries in the workplace.

First and foremost, your employer should take measures to ensure the safety of each and every one of their employees.

The Health and Safety at Work Act stipulates that employers need to ensure employees are given all the necessary safety tools and safety information including appropriate training to perform the job safely. Correct tools include personal protective equipment such as anti vibration gloves.

If available, employers should also opt for tools with vibration reduction technology. If this isn’t an option, they should be aware of a tool’s vibration emission value as this can be used to determine safe tool use times.

Carrying out the job safely means enforcing regular breaks and rotating workers between tasks.

For example, hammer-action tools like drills should only be used for up to 15 seconds at a time because of the risk of injury. Other vibrating tools can start generating risks after an hour of use.

Can I be dismissed for making compensation claims against my employer?

In a word, no.

If you’re worried about losing your job or being treated differently because of bringing a personal injury claim against your employer, don’t.

Every employer is legally obligated to keep employees safe – it is against the law for an employer to fire you because of your compensation claim due to their negligence.

If you have incurred serious illness as a result of your employer’s negligence, and they dismiss you because you bring about a workplace injury claim, you could be entitled to make a further action against them for unfair dismissal.

Remember, when you take out a vibration white finger claim, you aren’t just covering costs and expenses incurred due to your injury, you’re also flagging any shortfalls in your workplace’s health and safety guidelines. You’re protecting your colleagues against future similar accidents.

Who pays the injury compensation in a vibration white finger compensation claim?

Every employer is required by law to take out an insurance policy covering employers’ liability. Meaning payouts for personal injury claims wouldn’t come directly from the company, but from their insurance provider.

Is there a time limit for making a no win no fee compensation claim?

If you’ve suffered a vibration white finger injury, you have three years from the exact date you sustained the injury, or from when you discovered that your employer’s negligence resulted in your injury, to begin the claim process.

To find out more about claiming compensation, get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, you can fill in one of the secure contact forms on this page and they’ll call you back.

Why use a personal injury lawyer to make a no win no fee vibration white finger claim

If you have suffered from vibration white finger and feel that your employer or former employer did not do enough to protect you, it is possible to make a compensation claim through a personal injury lawyer.

A personal injury solicitor is an attorney who specialises in personal injury law. They have the experience and knowledge of how to handle these types of claims, and will work to get you the maximum compensation that you deserve.

They will guide you through every step of your case: from finding out if you are eligible for compensation, making a claim for compensation with your employer, and going through mediation or litigation in court if necessary.

To find out more, get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, you can fill in one of the secure contact forms on this page and they’ll call you back.

The personal injury solicitors we partner with take cases on a no win no fee basis which means there is nothing to lose by making an enquiry today.

How much compensation could I get for a vibration white finger claim?

We can’t provide you with an exact amount of compensation settlement as your compensation will be calculated based on your injury severity, e.g. the extent of your symptoms and their impact, including the number of fingers affected, pain, impaired grip and dexterities, and also on the injury’s effects on your work and personal situation.

As a rough idea for typical compensation settlements for successful claims, the 2022 edition of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) suggests for vibration white finger injuries:

  • Most serious: A younger person with very severe and permanent symptoms. A severe effect on home life, and the need to change employment due to inability to perform the current type of work – £31,640 to £38,430.
  • Serious: Symptoms manifest frequently and will affect some or all fingers at once. There will a significant impact on both the work or home life of the victim – £16,760 to £31,640.
  • Moderate: Typically middle ages claimants who have worked in a job causing vibration for a long time. In cold weather, the symptoms would be much more pronounced – £8,640 to £16,760.
  • Minor: Occasional symptoms that manifest now and then, and will not affect all fingers at once. There will be very little impact on either the work or home life of the victim – £2,990 to £8,640.

Vibration white finger claims payments

The amount of compensation you could receive from your vibration injury claim will vary according to damages you need recompense for, for example:

Special damages

Special damages is monetary compensation to cover any financial losses e.g. lost earnings, or expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury.

The purpose of monetary damages is to return you to the financial position you were in before developing the condition, and also to account for all long-lasting financial impacts your vibration white finger injury may have in the future.

General damages

General damages are designed to cover the loss or pain and suffering that you have gone through as a result of your injury up to the point of settlement.

The amount of compensation you could expect will depend on the severity of your injuries and how long you have suffered with them.

How to claim compensation for vibration white finger

Whether your VWF injury has come about through excessive exposure to vibrations or faulty tools, you could be entitled to make a vibration injury claim.

If you believe that you have a valid vibration white finger compensation claim, you should speak to an expert personal injury solicitors as soon as possible. They will advise you on your no win no fee claim and discuss your chances of success.

The injury solicitors that we partner with work on a no win no fee basis, meaning you won’t be at financial risk when making a claim.

Winning hand arm vibration syndrome or vibration white finger compensation could make a big difference to your quality of life, and help you deal with the injuries you have suffered.

To find out more, get in touch with a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, you can fill in one of the secure contact forms on this page and they’ll call you back.

About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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