VWF - Vibration White Finger Claim
Vibration White Finger is an industrial disease or personal injury which is also known as VWF or Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). VWF is a form of Raynaud's Disease, which is caused by the restriction of blood supply to the extremities of the body, such as the ears, nose, fingers and toes, and which also affects the vascular systems of the fingers, thumbs and arms.
Vibration White Finger commonly affects employees whose duties include working with power tools that vibrate or who are exposed in some way to high levels of vibration. Employees who are exposed to very cold temperatures on a regular basis can also be at risk of the disorder. People at risk include employees of the construction industry and mining industry, and those in professions like carpentry or metal worker.
Power tools that can cause the disorder include power drills, grinders, disc cutters, pneumatic drills, sanders, needle guns, power mowers, chain saws, strimmers and hedge trimmers - any tool or equipment that can make your fingers or hands tingle or go numb after using it for about 5 minutes. Around 1 in 10 people who use these types of power tools on a regular basis end up suffering with some type of vibration white finger disorder, and the trouble with these tools is that the damage they cause (the VWF disorder) is often irreversible and can lead to an employee not being able to carry on with their job.
One company, Charcon Tunnels, had to pay £10,000 to an employee in an out of court settlement after vibrating tools left a man's hands permanently damaged. The Nottinghamshire man was left with VWF after using vibrating power tools for up to five hours a day in his work environment. The VWF caused pain and numbness in the man's hands and left him unable to do simple tasks like buttoning up clothes or playing his favourite sport, darts. His employer admitted liability for the man's condition.
Employers are legally obliged to keep their employees as safe as is humanly possible and this includes taking the appropriate measures to protect employees from vibration white finger. If your vibration white finger disorder has resulted from your employer not following the recommended guidelines and not taking steps to minimize the risk of VWF then you could be eligible for claiming personal injury compensation due to your employer's negligence.
Employers can protect workers from VWF by:-
- Carrying out a proper risk assessment to identify the risk of VWF so that appropriate safety measures can be taken.
- Cutting or reducing exposure to vibration by using lower vibration tools.
- Ensuring that workers are provided with the appropriate tools for the task.
- Making sure that tools are properly maintained and that any cutting tools are kept sharp.
- Providing employees with the right protection and ensuring that warm clothes are worn in cold temperatures.
- Ensuring that workers take regular breaks.
- Making sure that workers are trained in using the tools and know to exercise their hands and fingers regularly to help circulation.
If you have suffered VWF because your employer has been negligent by not carrying out these steps or by ignoring your symptoms, you should seek advice from an injury lawyer. By not taking these steps, your employer has caused your personal injury and should have to compensate your for your pain and any loss of earnings or medical bills that you have had to face.
Specialist personal injury solicitors tend to work on a no win no fee (conditional agreement) basis, meaning that your claim is a no risk claim - you usually keep 100% of the compensation if you win and you pay nothing if you lose your case. The compensation you receive can enable you to make a career change, make up for lost earnings and potential future earnings, help you pay for medical bills and give you a better quality of life. If the VWF was not your fault, you deserve to be compensated.