Vibration White Finger Syndrome Claims

Vibration white finger (VWF) syndrome affects people who use vibrating tools over a long period of time. If you suffer from VWF, it may be that your employers are to blame. If you feel this is the case, we can investigate for you and help you claim compensation.

YouClaim’s team of industrial disease solicitors has helped many employees make a claim for their conditions. Start your claim today by calling 0800 10 757 95, by speaking to us via our online chat function or by filling in our contact form featured on this page. 

What is VWF?

VWF is a permanent condition with no known cure that can affect the nerves, blood vessels, muscles and joints in the fingers, hands and arms, leaving sufferers in debilitating pain and often unable to work. Symptoms for VWF include:

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Pins and needles
  • Fingers changing colour when exposed to cold
  • Loss of strength and an inability to feel and hold items
  • Spasms due to lack of blood supply

In extreme cases, tradespeople who work under these severe conditions may lose their fingers.

Causes of VWF

The most common cause of VWF is using vibrating machinery and tools in cold temperatures, meaning those who work in the construction and mining industries are most at risk of this industrial disease. Tools and machinery likely to cause VWF include:

  • Needle guns
  • Chainsaws
  • Clearing saw
  • Jigsaws
  • Hammering and chipping tools
  • Hedge trimmers
  • Sanders
  • Power planes
  • Disc cutters
  • Drills
  • Percussive breakers

Diagnosing VWF

If it’s suspected that you have VWF, your GP will carry out a medical assessment consisting of an examination and tests of your symptoms so the severity of the condition can be determined. Tests are carried out on both hands and include:

  • The vibrotactile threshold test, measuring the sensitivity of nerves in your hands
  • The thermal aesthesiometry test, measuring your hand’s thermal receptors
  • The purdue pegboard test, measuring dexterity and any loss of movement in your hands
  • The grip force measurement test, measuring your grip 

The Stockholm Workshop Scale can also be used to measure VWF. This scale recognises that VWF can sometimes have two components: a vascular component (affecting the vessels that move fluid in the body) and a sensory component (affecting a sufferer’s sensations). The scale gives separate scores to both of these components - the vascular scale runs from 0 to 4, with 4 highlighting severe symptoms, while the sensory scale runs to 3. 

Professions linked to VWF

Automotive industry workers

In car plants, factories and garages across the UK, workers use vibrating tools on a daily basis. Employers have a responsibility to train their staff on the correct use of equipment, as well as to evaluate and manage the risks involved. Unfortunately, some employers do not fulfill their responsibilities and fail to protect their employees from the dangers of VWF.          

Whether you have worked as a garage mechanic, MOT tester or on the production line in a factory, and you have developed VWF due to the negligence of your employer, you could be entitled to compensation.

Construction workers

Many builders dismiss the numbness associated with VWF as a small matter. However, if construction workers do not take the condition seriously and fail to seek medical assistance, it can worsen and become increasingly debilitating.

If you have suffered from VWF due to your employer not taking preventative measures to reduce the risks of the condition, we can help you make a claim for compensation.

Health workers

Typically, VWF is related to work that is labour intensive and reliant on power tools. However, many health workers in the UK have also been known to suffer from the condition. Medical professionals, including dentists, orthotics workers and orthopaedic surgeons who are required to use vibrating tools frequently, are also at risk of VWF.

It is the employer’s duty to ensure measures are in place to reduce the effects of this debilitating condition. If you have been diagnosed with VWF and believe more could have been done to prevent the condition, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Miners

Miners have to use vibratory equipment to carry out their work. If steps are not taken by your employer to prevent damage due to exposure to vibration, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation - even if it’s been some years since you have worked in a mine.

Motorcycle couriers

Frequent use of a motorbike has been known to cause VWF. If your job requires regular use of a motorcycle, your employer should provide suitable training and equipment to ensure you are able to do your job at minimal risk.

Different methods of limiting the chances of developing VWF include wearing muffs or ‘lobster claw’ gloves, ensuring your gloves are inside your jacket cuffs and making adjustments to your motorbike, such as adjusting dampers in the handlebars.

If you have developed VWF and you think that riding a motorcycle for work is at the root of the problem, we can help you make a claim for compensation.

Stonemasons

Stonemasons are among the workers most at risk of suffering with VWF due to regular usage of tools for grinding, sanding, polishing, cutting and carving stone. Employers must ensure workers are protected from the risks involved in stonemasonry by frequently monitoring the health of their employees and reducing exposure to repetitive vibrations.

If you have suffered from symptoms of VWF, after working as a stonemason, and think that your employer is responsible, we will be able to help you claim the compensation you deserve.

Employer’s duty

Under the control of Vibration at Work Regulations set by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an employer has a legal duty to reduce risks to health and safety caused by exposure to vibration at work. They must ensure:

  • Vibration risks are properly assessed
  • Information and training is provided
  • Regular health checks are carried out
  • Risk assessments are regularly reviewed

It is also essential that employers ensure that equipment is properly and safely maintained and that their employees are given regular breaks when using vibratory tools.

The EU Hand-Arm Vibration Chart was created by Hire Association Europe and the Construction Confederation to monitor vibration levels and help reduce the number of people suffering from illnesses such as vibration white finger.

The chart classifies vibration level figures by placing them in three categories. These categories are based on: severity; the vibration output of the tools being used (measured in metres per square second (m/s2); and the amount of time the worker is exposed to levels of vibration each day.

The colour red on the chart means a high level of vibration (over 10 m/s2: carrying the warning that it is necessary to assess the situation), amber indicates a medium level (5 to 10 m/s2: 2 hours maximum daily exposure) and green indicates a low level (below 5 m/s2: 8 hours maximum use daily).

Similar conditions

CREST syndrome

If you are diagnosed with vibration white finger or a similar condition, you may come across the term CREST syndrome, also known as limited scleroderma. The syndrome presents itself in VWF sufferers with hardened skin, and there are 5 main features of the syndrome:

  • Calcinosis - the formation of calcium deposits in soft tissue
  • Raynaud’s disease - the vasospastic disorder causing discolouration to the body
  • Esophageal dysmotility - the abnormal function of the oesophagus
  • Sclerodactyly - the thickening and tightness of the skin on fingers and toes
  • Telangiectasia - the presence of dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin

CREST is a less severe form of scleroderma and usually spares the lungs and kidneys, thereby making it less likely to be life-threatening.

Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS)

Like vibration white finger, hand-arm vibration syndrome is most common among workers who frequently use vibrating tools. The symptoms of HAVS are similar to VWF and include numbness and loss of strength.

The condition should be diagnosed as soon as possible as it can become severely disabling, with further symptoms including loss of feeling in the hands, circulation problems, coldness, pain and difficult or inability to pick up items.

FAQs

How much compensation could I claim?

The amount of compensation you could be awarded for VWF varies, but in cases where a worker has lost a finger, our experienced solicitors have been able to secure compensation claim awards of as much as £20,000.

I’m self-employed, can I make a claim?

Many self-employed workers, including builders, electricians, plumbers and stonemasons, are hired to carry out work on a temporary basis. Over this time, your safety is the responsibility of whoever has hired you, and you should receive the same assessment, training and equipment as those employed permanently. If employers fail to do this and you suffer an injury as a result, then you are legally entitled to make a claim for compensation.

How YouClaim can help

Suffering from VWF can leave you with no option but to retrain or seek early retirement, making it difficult to support both yourself and your family. Compensation can go a long way towards easing the financial burden that normally accompanies a long-term condition like VWF.

Our team of industrial disease specialists excels in providing professional and sensitive representation to all of our clients. Whether you have suffered from vibration white finger or any other industrial disease, we will strive to deliver the very best expert and impartial advice to ensure that you get the most out of your claim.

We also offer you a ‘no win, no fee’ service, which means that you are protected in the event that your claim is unsuccessful, so you’ve got nothing to lose.

For information on we have helped other affected by VWF, take a look at our case studies below: 

Get started today

If you or a family member has suffered with VWF, HAVS or CREST syndrome that was caused by an employer’s negligence, contact our solicitors today. Starting the claims process couldn’t be easier - simply call us on 0800 10 757 95, speak to us using our online chat feature or fill in the enquiry form here and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Case Studies