Vibration White Finger (VWF) is one of the most common industrial diseases recorded in the UK today. It is estimated that over 3000 people a year make an industrial injury compensation claim based on Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS Claims), the umbrella term for diseases resulting from vibrations in the arms, hands and fingers. Vibration White Finger, also known as ‘Dead Finger,’ is caused by prolonged, excessive use of vibrating hand-held power tools in the workplace. The vibrations from these tools cause minor but repetitive injuries to nerves and blood cells in the hands and fingers. Over time this damage accumulates, and the flow of blood to these extremities becomes periodically restricted. This initially causes tingling sensations and loss of feeling, which will eventually result in a loss of manual dexterity and strength of grip. The disease may progress with the appearance of white patches on fingertips, which can spread to the whole hand, and even necessitate the amputation of fingers in extreme cases. Vibration White Finger becomes worse in cold temperatures and is also exacerbated by smoking and coffee. The disease can affect people after a few months of working with vibrating tools, or many only become apparent years after such work has ceased. It is an irreversible condition, and symptoms will get progressively worse over time. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that up to 5 million workers in the UK are currently at risk of contracting the disease.
Vibration White Finger commonly affects workers in industries such as mining, forestry, road maintenance, construction, and engineering. Anyone however who uses a vibrating tool in work that causes feelings of tingling or numbness is at risk from the disease. Women are up to ten times more likely to develop Vibration White Finger than men. Cases are often reported in the textile industry, for example, caused by the repetitive use of needle and staple guns. When assessing Vibration White Finger Compensation awards, courts use the Stockholm Workshop Scale, a scientific basis for determining the effect on hands and individual fingers about each other. Employers have been under a duty of care since 1976 to protect workers from the threats posed by vibrating power tools as far as reasonably possible. Their duties to workers have since been clarified by The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. An employer’s responsibilities include preventing the excessive use of vibrating tools, providing suitable protective equipment, training workers in the safe use of tools, maintaining a reasonable working temperature, and ensuring tools are in good condition. A Vibration White Finger Compensation claim will examine the behavior of employers about these factors, as well as assess the extent of the disease and its effects on a person’s working and domestic life. Like any hand injury compensation, VWF is uncomfortable as we need to use our hands for daily activity.
The law related to Vibration White Finger is complicated, especially where multiple employers are involved, and it is, therefore, imperative that an experienced, specialist solicitor is engaged to handle claims for vibration white finger compensation. Tylers Solicitors have had extensive experience with Vibration White Finger Compensation claims over the past twenty years. We operate on a No Win No Fee basis meaning if you win your case you keep all of the damages awarded, and if you lose you will not pay a penny.