Vibration White Finger, A Condition of the Past?
With Health and Safety now being enforced more effectively in working environments is the potential of Vibration White Finger a condition of the past? Vibration White Finger also known as (VWF) or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is a condition that affects the hands and fingers when they have been exposed to vibratory movement. In most cases VWF is common among workers who use heavy hand vibratory tools such as construction workers. The condition can become apparent years after initial exposure however minor symptoms such as numbness can be felt instantly after work.
When Vibration White Finger was first recognised?
With the knowledge and awareness of VWF growing in the 80’s many different types of protection have been introduced to combat people obtaining this form of work related injury. The term VWF was first coined in the 1970’s with a new assessment scale for the condition. The Taylor-Pelmear scale was published in 1975 as a way of assessing VWF as a condition however it wasn’t until 1985 that it became a prescribed disease in the United Kingdom.
A notable case regarding compensation for Vibration White Finger was awarded to several miners in 1997. Subsequently the UK government set up a fund to cover VWF which exceeded £100 million payments by 2004.
Health and Safety measures introduced & protection available?
Different health and safety management guidelines are regulated regarding VWF in the workplace; these guidelines require that “worker vibration exposure is assessed in terms of acceleration amplitude and duration.” Essentially if the employee is using a tool that vibrates slightly for a long time can be just as damaging as using a heavily vibrating tool for a short time. The duration of use of the tool is measured by time and the period when the worker is actually operating the tool, this is typically quoted in hours per day. The vibration of the tool can vary depending on the equipment however proper checks should be made on all equipment to make sure time on equipment is properly monitored.
There are also forms of physical protection available to workers regarding VWF. Special anti-vibration gloves were introduced that include padded protection that absorbs a certain percentage of the vibration. The gloves are available in varied formats with some offering a gel material in the gloves as an absorbent. These gloves still require the proper health and safety guidelines along with usage as alone they will not completely prevent VWF if your employer is still breaching the amount of time they are allowing staff to operate equipment.
These new forms of protection are modern adjustments to old working equipment, this leaves an area of time where workers were using gloves for example that didn’t properly protect the employee.
VWF a thing of the past?
In conclusion VWF as a condition is becoming less common in modern industry with protection and guidelines in place that prevent the condition from developing or worsening. However workers who were previously exposed or who have experienced negligence at their work are still finding that symptoms of VWF are now effecting those employees years after their initial exposure. To say that VWF is a thing of the past is incorrect, the lack of awareness of the condition and the compensation available are a thing of the past, however there are still groups of workers who will eventually have VWF due to their current exposure not being properly regulated.
If you or someone you know has been affected by Vibration White Finger then we would advise you visit your GP who will be able to provide you with a medical diagnosis along with treatments for your condition. Once you have visited your GP you can call Roberts Jackson Solicitors on 0808 252 0737 and we will be able to provide you with free legal advice on the next steps to take.
 “Vibration White Finger” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vibration_white_finger
 “Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome” Patient, http://www.patient.co.uk/health/hand-arm-vibration-syndrome-leaflet