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Hand Arm Vibration and Vibration White Finger

Your guide to Hand-Arm Vibration claims

Your Legal Friend client Mr Dowse

They acted in a sympathetic and professional manner and resolved my case very efficiently.

Mr Dowse
Leeds

Vibration White Finger Explained

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome or Vibration White Finger are conditions that affect the hands and fingers. If you’re a sufferer, your fingers may turn white and you’ll feel less sensation in them. What’s more, this condition can be made even worse by very cold weather due to the nerve damage involved. These symptoms are similar to those of Reynaud’s disease which is not usually work related as it is a naturally occurring condition whose cause is often unknown.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and Vibration White Finger are common industrial injuries that affect people who work with vibrating tools like concrete breakers, sanders, grinders, hammer drills and chipping hammers, chainsaws, and other pneumatic and percussive equipment. You are particularly at risk if you use hammer action tools for more than 15 minutes per day or other pneumatic equipment for over an hour a day.

These conditions can also affect people who have worked in light engineering, particularly if they have regularly used sanders, grinders, drills and bench tools.

If you work with tools like this, your employer has to make sure that proper safety measures are in place, that you’ve been given the right personal protective equipment and that you get the right number of breaks. It’s also recommended that your job is rotated so you’re not doing too much of the same thing for a long period.

The types of industries where these tools are more likely to be used every day are construction, building & maintenance of roads and railways, and heavy engineering, especially where concrete products are manufactured. There are other industries too – such as public utilities (gas, electricity or telecoms) – where these tools are commonly used.

If your employer hasn’t stuck to the rules and you’ve been affected by Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome or Vibration White Finger, it is important to speak to a specialist solicitor with expertise in this type of condition.

Our experienced occupational illness solicitors can advise and support you throughout your claim. We can advise you about the benefits you are entitled to from the Department of Work and Pensions because of your injury. We can also access rehabilitation treatment for you so that the cost of this treatment and any necessary aids or equipment can be funded through your claims process. Above all, our experts can help you secure the compensation you deserve.

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Our expert team will call you...

Alison Saul, Director of Personal Injury leads our Personal Injury and Road Accident teams. A fully qualified solicitor with over 15 years of experience and expertise, Alison is dedicated to achieving the highest levels of compensation for her clients as well as ensuring high quality client care.

Alison is assisted by her team managers, Philip Waters Lee Quinn, Jenna Hargreaves, and Kathryn Langton. Philip, Lee, and Jenna lead legal teams focussing on Road Traffic Accident cases while Kathyrn leads our Personal Injury team. Together they have a wealth of experience in personal injury compensation.

Philip, a qualified solicitor, has over 18 years’ experience in personal injury compensation. Having previously worked for a large insurance company, he has extensive insights in how to engage effectively with insurers to achieve the level of compensation our clients deserve. Philip deals with cases of high value, complex cases, and recently secured £1.6 million in compensation for one of his clients who suffered catastrophic injuries in a road accident.

Lee has over 15 years’ specialist experience in Personal Injury claims and also manages a wide variety of high value, complex cases. Lee has extensive experience of working with insurance companies, acting for both claimants and defendants, and so understands how to secure the highest levels of compensation for the victims of road traffic accidents.

Jenna is a qualified solicitor and has studied to become a barrister. Jenna leads the internal reviews of our case management processes to ensure excellent, efficient case handling and high levels of client satisfaction.

Kathryn, also a qualified solicitor, specialises in accidents at work, public liability and accidents abroad. Kathryn deals with a wide variety of cases, often including accidents that involve serious, complex injuries.

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There are many people injured in accidents each year through no fault of their own and the circumstances will be different in each instance. Our team has extensive experience of successfully managing a wide range of personal injury claims, so we can help you secure the maximum compensation you deserve.

Alison Saul

Director of Personal Injury

What our customers say

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“I found the staff to be friendly, helpful, courteous and they kept me well informed on a regular basis”

Mrs. Vora,
Loughborough

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“They acted in a sympathetic and professional manner and resolved my case very efficiently”

Mr Dowse
Leeds

  For a confidential chat, call one of our experts today 0151 550 5228

10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining a full description of your accident
Step
2
Obtaining your medical records
Step
3
Contacting the company responsible for your accident
Step
4
Arranging your medical assessment
Step
5
Collating details of your financial loss
Step
86
Negotiating the maximum settlement possibleProviding you with our valuation of your losses
Step
7
Sending your valuation to the other party's insurer
Step
68
Providing you with our valuation of your lossesNegotiating the maximum settlement possible
Step
9
Issuing Court proceedings
Step
10
Sending you your compensation payment

Your questions... answered

What Is Vibration White Finger?

Vibration White Finger or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome is a condition that affects many workers who have used vibrating tools and equipment in their job.  The use of hand held power tools for hours each day can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the fingers, which will result in poor circulation.

Vibration White Finger (VWF) is now more commonly known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).  It’s an industrial disease or condition that mainly affects those who operate hand-held vibrating power tools such as pneumatic drills, chainsaws, grinders, impact hammers, impact wrenches, sanders, or other power tools over a number of years.  The condition was initially thought only to cause whiteness (or blanching) of the fingers, but tingling and numbness are also common, and cold weather aches and pains are often reported.

The industry accepted date from which employers are deemed to have had knowledge of the damage that vibration can do is 1 January 1976.

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What type of work is usually associated with this condition?

Vibration White Finger is usually common in workers who have used vibration tools and equipment such as chain saws, power drills and pneumatic picks and shovels, like in the road maintenance or utilities industry. However I have had many successful claims for people who have used smaller bench type tools, like sander and grinders. Basically, the use of these tools for any length of time can lead to this condition.

How will I know if I have Vibration White Finger?

Vibration White Finger is uncomfortable for people to suffer from.  Their fingers become white and painful, particularly in the cold, and they can have difficulty tying their shoelaces, and with fine manipulation, manual dexterity is a real issue. With people who have severe issues, the fingers can become completely numb.

Symptoms of vibration exposure

Symptoms of Hand-Arm Vibration vary between individuals but the more common are:

  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers – you may experience pins and needles in your fingers as well as numbness. This is caused by nerve damage. Sometimes these symptoms are limited to your fingertips only, but in more serious cases they can extend up the whole length of your fingers. The symptoms may come and go from time or time, or they may be permanent.  Symptoms that remain can cause problems for you when fastening buttons, for example, or tying shoelaces, or picking up small objects such as coins.
  •  A cold sensation in your fingers  - if you experience coldness in your fingers, this is a common symptom of the condition, often triggered by being out in cold weather conditions or holding a cold object.
  • Discolouration of the skin of your fingers – you may see that your fingers turn from white to blue or even red.  This discolouration of the skin and feeling of coldness is caused by damage to the blood vessels and is usually also associated with pain that can last for a few minutes to few hours and be particularly disabling.
  • Aches and pains in your fingers, hands, and arms - you may experience general aches and pains in your arms, hands and fingers. These are thought to be caused by damage to the muscles, joints or bones and can cause reduced grip strength when trying to take hold of an object.

Once you have developed the condition, there is very little that can be done to treat it.  However, you should seek medical attention from your GP to confirm the diagnosis, and, if you’re still working, you should also report it to your employer so that you can be relieved from using power tools. If you smoke, this can make symptoms worse so if you can stop smoking, this may help you.  You should try to keep your hands warm where possible to keep blood flowing, but unfortunately once nerves have been damaged, they can’t be repaired. 

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Can I claim?

If you have worked in an environment where you have had to use vibrating tools and equipment on a regular basis, and you haven’t been given correct training or adequate safety equipment and regular breaks, then you may be able to make a claim.

This condition can have quite an impact on a worker’s life and compensation will aim to pay for that condition, and any losses and expenses associated with it. Some people may have symptoms so severe they are unable to continue with this type of work. 

A claim can also include future loss of earnings and disadvantage on the open labour market if you have to look for alternative work.

How to claim compensation

There are a number of hurdles you will need to overcome in order to succeed with a claim:

1         Limitation – you must bring a claim within 3 years of the date you knew, or ought to have known, that your condition could have been caused by your work.

2         Causation – you must be diagnosed with VWF or HAVS that has been caused by your employment   (We will obtain medical evidence on your behalf to prove that point and we will discuss your work & exposure history with you).

3         Foreseeability – you must prove that your employer could have foreseen that exposure to vibration could have caused that damage and that your employer knew of the risk.

4         Negligence and breach of duty – you must be able to demonstrate that your employer exposed you to excessive vibration in breach of the laws and health & safety regulations. (If they failed to prevent or reduce the exposure to vibration, or failed to supply you with protective gloves, this will assist you.)

It is important to note that all of these hurdles must be overcome, not just one or two.

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Are there time limits for a claim?

As with any illness claim, you have 3 years from when the symptoms became significant and you made the association to work. You should speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as you possibly can, and we will give you advice on the evidence we would need to help you bring a successful claim.

Will it cost me anything to make a claim?

Here at Your Legal Friend we can help you with a claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.  In any event, the first initial consultation is free and we will always explain to you from the outset the terms of funding so that there are no surprises.

Who do I make a claim against?

Your symptoms must have arisen within a short period of time since your last exposure to vibration, and you should aim to claim against your employer regardless of whether or not they remain in business.  It is often possible to trace the employers’ liability insurance of a previous firm and, once located, the insurers will investigate their liability to pay compensation to you.  If negligence is accepted, that insurer should pay compensation to you based on the damage you have suffered.

If court proceedings are necessary, it may be that some companies that are no longer in existence have to be restored to the Companies House Register for that purpose.

Vibration White Finger or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome is a condition that affects many workers who have used vibrating tools and equipment in their job.  The use of hand held power tools for hours each day can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the fingers, which will result in poor circulation.

Vibration White Finger (VWF) is now more commonly known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).  It’s an industrial disease or condition that mainly affects those who operate hand-held vibrating power tools such as pneumatic drills, chainsaws, grinders, impact hammers, impact wrenches, sanders, or other power tools over a number of years.  The condition was initially thought only to cause whiteness (or blanching) of the fingers, but tingling and numbness are also common, and cold weather aches and pains are often reported.

The industry accepted date from which employers are deemed to have had knowledge of the damage that vibration can do is 1 January 1976.

Read less

Vibration White Finger is usually common in workers who have used vibration tools and equipment such as chain saws, power drills and pneumatic picks and shovels, like in the road maintenance or utilities industry. However I have had many successful claims for people who have used smaller bench type tools, like sander and grinders. Basically, the use of these tools for any length of time can lead to this condition.

Vibration White Finger is uncomfortable for people to suffer from.  Their fingers become white and painful, particularly in the cold, and they can have difficulty tying their shoelaces, and with fine manipulation, manual dexterity is a real issue. With people who have severe issues, the fingers can become completely numb.

Symptoms of vibration exposure

Symptoms of Hand-Arm Vibration vary between individuals but the more common are:

  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers – you may experience pins and needles in your fingers as well as numbness. This is caused by nerve damage. Sometimes these symptoms are limited to your fingertips only, but in more serious cases they can extend up the whole length of your fingers. The symptoms may come and go from time or time, or they may be permanent.  Symptoms that remain can cause problems for you when fastening buttons, for example, or tying shoelaces, or picking up small objects such as coins.
  •  A cold sensation in your fingers  - if you experience coldness in your fingers, this is a common symptom of the condition, often triggered by being out in cold weather conditions or holding a cold object.
  • Discolouration of the skin of your fingers – you may see that your fingers turn from white to blue or even red.  This discolouration of the skin and feeling of coldness is caused by damage to the blood vessels and is usually also associated with pain that can last for a few minutes to few hours and be particularly disabling.
  • Aches and pains in your fingers, hands, and arms - you may experience general aches and pains in your arms, hands and fingers. These are thought to be caused by damage to the muscles, joints or bones and can cause reduced grip strength when trying to take hold of an object.

Once you have developed the condition, there is very little that can be done to treat it.  However, you should seek medical attention from your GP to confirm the diagnosis, and, if you’re still working, you should also report it to your employer so that you can be relieved from using power tools. If you smoke, this can make symptoms worse so if you can stop smoking, this may help you.  You should try to keep your hands warm where possible to keep blood flowing, but unfortunately once nerves have been damaged, they can’t be repaired. 

Read less

If you have worked in an environment where you have had to use vibrating tools and equipment on a regular basis, and you haven’t been given correct training or adequate safety equipment and regular breaks, then you may be able to make a claim.

This condition can have quite an impact on a worker’s life and compensation will aim to pay for that condition, and any losses and expenses associated with it. Some people may have symptoms so severe they are unable to continue with this type of work. 

A claim can also include future loss of earnings and disadvantage on the open labour market if you have to look for alternative work.

How to claim compensation

There are a number of hurdles you will need to overcome in order to succeed with a claim:

1         Limitation – you must bring a claim within 3 years of the date you knew, or ought to have known, that your condition could have been caused by your work.

2         Causation – you must be diagnosed with VWF or HAVS that has been caused by your employment   (We will obtain medical evidence on your behalf to prove that point and we will discuss your work & exposure history with you).

3         Foreseeability – you must prove that your employer could have foreseen that exposure to vibration could have caused that damage and that your employer knew of the risk.

4         Negligence and breach of duty – you must be able to demonstrate that your employer exposed you to excessive vibration in breach of the laws and health & safety regulations. (If they failed to prevent or reduce the exposure to vibration, or failed to supply you with protective gloves, this will assist you.)

It is important to note that all of these hurdles must be overcome, not just one or two.

Read less

As with any illness claim, you have 3 years from when the symptoms became significant and you made the association to work. You should speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as you possibly can, and we will give you advice on the evidence we would need to help you bring a successful claim.

Here at Your Legal Friend we can help you with a claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.  In any event, the first initial consultation is free and we will always explain to you from the outset the terms of funding so that there are no surprises.

Your symptoms must have arisen within a short period of time since your last exposure to vibration, and you should aim to claim against your employer regardless of whether or not they remain in business.  It is often possible to trace the employers’ liability insurance of a previous firm and, once located, the insurers will investigate their liability to pay compensation to you.  If negligence is accepted, that insurer should pay compensation to you based on the damage you have suffered.

If court proceedings are necessary, it may be that some companies that are no longer in existence have to be restored to the Companies House Register for that purpose.