Vibration White Finger, what is it?
Vibration White Finger, also known as Raynaud’s Syndrome and Raynaud’s Phenomenon, affects over 300,000 people in the UK and over 2million are at risk – particularly those in the construction industry.
Personal injury law specialists Johnson Law Solicitors have produced an infographic to help raise awareness of the condition.
WHAT IS IT?
Caused and exacerbated by the use of certain power tools, Vibration White Finger (VWF) is a form of repetitive strain injury where the small blood vessels in the fingers spasm, causing them to go bluish-white, cold and feel very painful. Attacks can last from a few minutes to several hours.
Using vibrating equipment and power tools is the primary cause of VWF. If your employees use pneumatic drills, jack hammers, sanders, concrete vibrators, chainsaws, compactors or lawn mowers at work, then they are at most risk of developing the condition.
The effects of VWF cannot be underestimated. It is a painful condition that in severe cases can cause permanent damage and requires hospital treatment.
RECOGNISING THE SYMPTOMS
Symptoms of VWF include tingling and numbness in the fingers, the inability to feel or pick things up, loss of strength in the hands, and fingertips turning white and then red in cold, wet weather.
It may take months or even years for these symptoms to appear, so if you or your workforce are at risk it’s important to take early action.
STEPS EMPLOYEES CAN TAKE
Take simple preventative measures if you are at risk of developing VWF. Keep warm at work, wear gloves in cold temperatures and exercise your hands and fingers regularly to maintain good circulation. It is also essential to use vibration equipment for no longer than necessary, and in short bursts rather than long periods of time.
If you do develop symptoms they can be treated by improving your fitness and circulation, avoiding vibration equipment and wrapping your hands as soon as an attack occurs. If you’re a smoker then quitting will help too.
WHAT YOU CAN DO AS A RESPONSIBLE EMPLOYER
Using certain power tools for just 15 minutes at a time is enough to expose someone to VWF, and the absolute maximum a non-hammer action tool should be used is four hours. As a health and safety measure you should enforce limits on how long vibrating tools should be used. Make sure you’re up to date on health and safety legislation and seek the advice of a health and safety consultant for further guidance.
Guest post provided by Johnson Law Solicitors