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What is the cause of white finger?

Vibration white finger is an industrial injury caused by using vibrating hand-held machinery. It's also known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and over-exposure can lead to permanent symptoms. Vibration white finger is a serious occupational health hazard and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigates every case reported.

The condition damages the nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments and blood vessels of the hand, wrist and forearm, literally producing a ‘white finger'. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, throbbing and pain plus a loss of skin colour, grip and manual dexterity. 

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but they're often triggered by the cold, with painful flare-ups lasting for up to an hour. In some cases, symptoms can worsen over time and become permanent, having a serious impact on your life.

Although your symptoms may not be constant, vibration white finger can stop you gripping things properly or performing delicate tasks with your hands. Even something like picking up a pen can become difficult because of numbness or loss of strength. 

Your employer has a duty of care to protect you

By law, employers must follow the rules set out in the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The regulations state that exposure to vibration in the workplace should be closely controlled, with strict time limits for how long you can operate equipment. They should also provide you with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as special anti-vibration gloves.

Developing the condition may have meant taking time off work, reducing your hours or changing roles. In extreme cases, you may have found yourself unable to work at all. Vibration white finger can also leave you unable to take part in sports or outdoor hobbies, as symptoms worsen in cold or wet weather.

Your employer has a duty of care to protect you from vibration white finger. If they've failed in that duty, then they're responsible for your injury.

You may be able to make a no win no fee compensation claim. For free, impartial advice, contact us today on [medtel]. We're here to help you make it right.

Did you know?

The Health and Safety Executive recorded 6,230 claims for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in the UK between 2009 and 2018. It also recorded 325 new claims for HAVS and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in 2018. The good news is that the trend has been downwards for the last decade.

What are the symptoms of vibration white finger?

When blood vessels and nerves are affected, sufferers feel a tingling or numbness in their fingers. In mild cases, it may just affect the fingertips and might not immediately be noticeable. As it becomes more serious, the whole finger can go white down to the knuckles as circulation becomes restricted. This is called ‘blanching'. Flare-ups can last an hour or more.
 
While white finger is caused by vibration, the attacks themselves are periodic and usually triggered by cold. Affected fingers change colour, rapidly becoming pale with loss of feeling. After an episode, the sufferer experiences an intense red flush and painful throbbing in the hand as circulation returns to the fingers. 
 
The condition also affects muscles and soft tissues in the hand. This can often lead to a distressing loss of dexterity for everyday tasks like doing up buttons or picking up small things. Naturally, it can also make life difficult when it comes to doing your job.
 
The effects of vibration white finger are cumulative. Symptoms may disappear after a short time and a break from using vibrating machinery. If exposure to vibration continues over months or years, the symptoms can worsen and become permanent. Extreme cases of vibration white finger can result in amputation.
 
It's easy to think nobody else was responsible for your vibration white finger injury, or to pass it off as something that ‘just happens'. But if you've handled heavy or vibrating machinery at work, then your employer may be at fault for causing the condition. 
 
Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did my employer or manager explain the exposure time limits for using the equipment?
  • Was there a process for me to track and manage my vibration exposure times?
  • Was I given sufficient safety training?
  • Was I provided with the right PPE - for instance, the right anti-vibration gloves? 

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no' then you may be eligible to make a no win no fee compensation claim. We provide free, impartial advice, and if we think you have a claim we'll put you in touch with a specialist vibration white finger solicitor. Call us on and tell us what you've been through.


If you first had knowledge of your vibration white finger syndrome within the last three years and it was caused by somebody else's negligence, then it's likely we can help you make a claim.

We know it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether somebody else was at fault for your injury, and that you might simply be looking for acknowledgement of your injury and an apology from those responsible. We can help.

With one call to us for free on you can find out if you can claim, and start taking steps to get the compensation you need following an accident at work.

All our advisors go through an intensive training process so they can let you know whether they think you have a claim. But they will never pressure you into starting one with us and never rush you during your call. We're simply here to listen and to help.

If you do decide you'd like to go ahead, we can choose the right specialist solicitor for your case and put you in touch with them, usually on the same call.

If you don't feel ready to call us yet, you can also use our compensation calculator, which will help you understand how much your claim might be worth.


Vibration white finger develops over time and is easy to dismiss, until it starts having a serious effect. It can also damage the hands and make the smallest everyday tasks really frustrating.

We're here to give people the clear, impartial advice they need, and no win no fee legal help if they're eligible to claim.

Anthony McGovern

Legal support advisor at National Accident Helpline

What tools can cause vibration white finger?

Your employer is responsible for keeping you safe at work. This includes protecting you from dangerous vibrations by following the correct health and safety regulations. If you regularly use hand-held or hand-guided tools and machinery, then you are at risk of vibration-related injury. This type of machinery includes:

  • Chainsaws, brush cutters and hedge trimmers.
  • Chipping hammers.
  • Concrete breakers and concrete pokers.
  • Hammer or pneumatic drills.
  • Powered mowers.
  • Sanders, disc cutters or hand-held grinders.
  • Stone or concrete scabblers and needle guns.

Static, powered machinery that you hold also poses a health risk, for instance pedestal or bench grinders. If you're using hammer-action tools for more than about 15 minutes a day, you're at risk. Operators using certain rotary tools for more than an hour a day are also at risk of vibration white finger injury.

If your employer has failed to uphold their duty of care, then they've put you at risk. You may be able to make an accident at work claim for the affect vibration white finger syndrome is having on your life. Contact us on to find out more.


Which industries tend to involve hand-arm vibration?

Industrial, factory, construction and agricultural jobs carry an enhanced risk of workplace injury and occupational illness. Work with vibrating materials, machinery or hand-held equipment is commonplace. Examples include:

  • Automotive maintenance, service and repair.
  • Construction.
  • Energy and communications utilities.
  • Forestry, farming and estate management.
  • Heavy engineering industry and metal foundries.
  • Heavy engineering branches of the armed services.
  • Heavy factory manufacturing like automotive, aviation and building materials.
  • Mining and quarry excavation.
  • Oil and petrochemical extraction.
  • Road, rail and infrastructure building and maintenance.
  • Shipbuilding and maintenance.

Don't worry if you think your vibration white finger was caused by a different type of work. It's thought that any vibrations cause small but repetitive injuries to the nerves and blood vessels in the fingers which, over time, causes the uncomfortable symptoms of this condition.

You can contact us for free, impartial advice on . We'll help you find out whether you could make a claim. There's no rush and no pressure. We're here to help.


What are the time limits for making a no win no fee white finger claim?

If you've developed vibration white finger through your employer's negligence, then you may be able to make a compensation claim. If you were 18 or over when you first noticed white finger symptoms, you have three years to make a personal injury claim. In the unlikely event you were under 18 at the time and no claim was made, you have three years from your 18th to your 21st birthday to make it. Talk to us on . We can give you all the information you need to make a decision that's right for you.


Dr Hilary Jones

My recommendation is to always seek advice the moment you notice any symptoms and report the problem to your employer.

The important thing is to take the right actions early on to get yourself on the mend.

Dr Hilary Jones

Medical broadcaster and GP

Who pays the injury compensation in a vibration white finger compensation claim?

Your employer must have employer's liability insurance by law. The insurance company issuing that policy will pay your compensation in a workplace injury claim. We say never accept an offer from an insurance company until you've taken legal advice. An early insurer offer will typically be less than that to which you may be entitled, so come and talk to us first. We'll check your claim and put you in touch with one of our specialist workplace injury law firms.
If they can take on your claim, they'll usually do so on a no win no fee basis and gather the evidence. They'll then negotiate with the other side's insurance company to reach the best settlement for you.


What might my no win no fee vibration white finger claim be worth?

It's difficult to give an accurate figure before your solicitor has begun negotiating with the other side. Workplace injuries and occupational illnesses vary in severity, complexity and the impact they can have on people's lives. Your solicitor will give you a clear idea of what your white finger claim may be worth after they've investigated your situation.


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Can I be dismissed for making a vibration white finger claim against my employer?

The short answer is no. All employers have a legal responsibility to make sure you and your colleagues are safe in your workplace. If your employer has failed in their duty of care and you've become ill as a result, you're entitled to full compensation. 
This cannot negatively affect your relationship with your employer and this is protected by UK employment law.

  • If your employer tries to dismiss you for making a compensation claim, you may have cause for unfair dismissal.
  • If they make your life at work so difficult that you end up leaving, you may have cause for constructive dismissal.

In reality, we understand that making a vibration white finger claim against your employer may be worrying. We understand and are here to help.
We'll give you the free, impartial and confidential advice you need to explore an occupational illness at work claim. In your own time and in your way. There's no pressure and no rush.
We'll guide you through those first steps and introduce you to one of our approved specialist no win no fee solicitors. Call us now on to find out more.


Vibration white finger (a variant of Raynaud's Phenomenon) and carpal tunnel syndrome are related hand-arm conditions. They can be caused by excess or undamped vibration.

  • Vibration white finger includes blood vessel damage that painfully interrupts blood circulation in the hand.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is damage to the median nerve in the wrist that can cause numbness, tingling and reduced grip. 

Both conditions can limit dexterity and sensation as well as causing debilitating discomfort and pain. 


How do I protect myself against vibration white finger?

It's your employer's responsibility to protect you against hand-arm vibration syndrome. A well-structured approach to prevention should typically include the following guidance.

  • Always use the lowest-vibrating tools to get the job done efficiently.
  • Always request and wear the right type of vibration-damping gloves.
  • Always use the right tool for each specific task.
  • Always check that tools or machinery are in good order before use.
  • Always keep cutting tools sharp so that they work as designed.
  • Always follow time-limit guidance and if you can, reduce the amount of time you use a vibrating tool for in one session.
  • If you can, always store tools so that they do not have very cold or frozen handles when you next use them.
  • Maintain good blood circulation by keeping warm and dry and massaging your fingers when you stop for a break.
    • If you smoke, it helps to cut back as smoking impedes circulation.
  • Avoid gripping or forcing a tool harder than you need to.

James

This is James from Surrey: here's his story

Being self-employed I wasn't entitled to claim any benefits at the time. National Accident Helpline are very good at what they do.

The process was very easy … one of the best things I've done. It was such a relief to get the money through.

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