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What Is Vibration White Finger?

28 March 2019

Raynaud's disease comes in two different forms: primary Raynaud's disease and secondary Raynaud's disease. If you suffer from primary form Raynaud's there generally won't be a reason for the disease, but you'll find your fingers going white when you find yourself in a colder environment. Primary is more common and doesn't usually pose a risk to your health.

Using power tools can cause Vibration White Finger
Using power tools can cause Vibration White Finger

Secondary form Raynaud's can be caused by an underlying condition, which is what we're interested in here. If you have a long history of working with power tools, heavy machinery and vibrating equipment, then you are at risk of a secondary form of Raynaud's called Vibration White Finger. This short article explains what Vibration White Finger is, before explaining some easy ways to prevent the condition.

What Is Vibration White Finger?

Vibration White Finger (VWF) comes in many names including Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and Dead Finger, so if you see any of these names while researching the condition then you are still reading about the same thing. Whatever you want to call this secondary form of Raynaud's, having it can have a detrimental impact on your health. Vibration White Finger is caused when there is damage to the nerves, blood vessels and joints in the hands, wrists and arms because of the consistent use of power tools.

What Are the Symptoms of Vibration White Finger?

Early symptoms can be identified before they become too serious, so we recommend looking out for them if you have used vibrating tools for a long time without protection. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers
  • Losing a sense of feeling in the fingers
  • Loss of strength in your hands
  • Your fingers going white then red in the cold

What Damage Can Vibration White Finger Cause Long Term?

If you don't do anything to prevent Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, then you put yourself at a greater risk of developing more serious conditions related to touch, feeling, speed and control in your hands. Long term problems include:

  • Permanent numbness in the hands
  • Little control when handling small items
  • Widespread white fingers

How Do I Know If I Am at Risk of Vibration White Finger?

If you want to be technical, then you are at risk of HAVS if you are exposed to vibration between frequencies of 5 to 2000 Hz with the highest risk between 50 and 300 Hz. If you don't understand these figures then don't worry as providing adequate protection against vibration is one of your employer's responsibilities. If you're unsure, then the following list of tasks identifies those who are at the highest risk of developing HAVS:

  • Chainsaws
  • Concrete and road breakers
  • Cut-off saws
  • Hammer drills
  • Hand-held grinders
  • Impact wrenches
  • Jackhammers
  • Jigsaws
  • Needle scalers
  • Pedestal grinders
  • Pneumatic drills
  • Polishers
  • Power hammers and chisels
  • Powered lawn mowers
  • Powered sanders
  • Scrabblers
  • Strimmers

How Do I Prevent Vibration White Finger?

It's UK law that no worker should be exposed to a dangerous level of vibration without the employer providing adequate PPE. If you are an employer, an employee or self-employed, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk. These steps include:

  • Holding equipment loosely
  • Keeping your hands warm
  • Properly maintaining equipment
  • Avoid smoking

However, one of the few things known to completely prevent HAVS is a pair of Anti-Vibration Gloves. Anti-vibration gloves are designed using special padding that absorbs the vibration before it meets your hands. You can recognise these gloves in two different ways: firstly, they'll probably be advertised as anti-vibration gloves, and secondly, in the small print you'll see that they adhere to Mechanical Vibration and Shock Standard ISO 10819:2013.

Raynaud's Disease Anti-Vibration Gloves for Vibration White Finger

Some gloves that we would recommend are the Raynaud's Disease Anti-Vibration Gloves for Vibration White Finger, designed to prevent Vibration White Finger by absorbing any dangerous level of vibration. Their thick, reinforced index finger, seams and fingertips combined with padded palms and pre-curved fingers are enough to make your hands feel safe and snug while protecting against vibration.

Raynaud's Disease Anti-Vibration Gloves for Vibration White Finger
Raynaud's Disease Anti-Vibration Gloves for Vibration White Finger

They are suitable for anyone whose job involves working with handheld vibrating tools, such as sanding tools, hammer drills, jackhammers and chainsaws. Comfortable, strong and durable, these gloves are well recommended for anyone concerned about HAVS and Raynaud's.

Don't Mess With Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome can sneak up on you. A white finger one week can quickly turn into something much worse if you don't adequately protect yourself. Protecting yourself isn't difficult, and by wearing the correct equipment and changing your working style you can quickly start to prevent the condition.

For more information about Raynaud's you can check out our Learn About Raynaud's Blogs. Otherwise, the Raynaud's Gloves category page includes a wide range of gloves that are designed to protect your hands against the cold while at work.

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