Vibration White Finger/Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

What is Vibration White Finger?

Vibration white finger (VWF) is also known as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and was first recognised in 1976. It is a physical problem usually the result of prolonged use of vibrating power tools in the workplace, such as pneumatic drills, or hand-held/handguided tools and is essentially an industrial ‘disease’. The continual vibrations can cause damage to the arteries and nerve endings, which accumulates over time to cause the condition which is permanent.

VWF is one of the most notorious of industrial diseases. There have been at least 305,000 cases reported, and each year there are around 3000 new cases. It is also the most commonly reported disease under the reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

Thousands of claims were successfully made by workers in the coal mining industry, where vibrating power tools were used on a daily basis.

However, according to the Health and Safety Executive in 2015, the number of new claims for vibration white finger has been declining over the past decade.


If you work with these power tools for more than a few hours every day, the vibrations can cause neurological, vascular and joint damage to a person’s hands, wrist and arm. When a sufferer’s hands are cold, they may turn white and bright red when they return to a warmer environment, making them numb, tingle or throb. Pins and needles-type sensations may occur in the hands, and in more severe cases, extend up to the arms.


Unfortunately, the condition can be permanent, and it may mean that sufferers struggle to handle small or fiddly objects.

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