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Vibration White Finger and Cold Weather

By January 27, 2022 No Comments

What Is Vibration White Finger and Raynaud’s

 

Vibration White finger (or Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome) is a common industrial injury caused by regular and extended use of vibrating tools or machinery. This is also known as Raynaud’s disease to many due to having the same symptoms and effects.  Whilst many people consider Raynaud’s as a separate disease to Vibration White Finger (VWF) and can be claimed and compensated as two different diseases, VWF is rather the secondary effect of Raynaud’s if not treated (More information here)

Whilst this disease can be avoided and treated at its very early stage, we find that it is still very common in the UK as many employers fail to provide the appropriate protection? to workers using vibrating machineries. With temperatures dropping dramatically in the winter and Raynaud’s being a disease that affects our hands and fingers, it is worth questioning what happens when it gets colder and how cold temperatures could affect individuals with this illness.

Natural Reaction To Cold Weather

 

We can all relate to the frustration caused when our fingers can barely move when it’s cold, as something as easy as sending a text or holding your bag could become very hard to do. The reason for this is because the supply of blood to your skin becomes narrow due to the cold temperature.  This then leads to a decrease of blood flow, which is known as ‘vasoconstriction’. Vasoconstriction is meant to help with heat loss so you can have a normal internal temperature however this still reduces blood flow.

How Cold Weather Could Affect Raynaud’s

 

Similarly to this, one of the main symptoms for Raynaud’s Disease is having white fingers due to the lack of blood circulation. Therefore, it is easy to identify how much the cold would have an additional negative effect on someone with Raynaud’s – especially if they’re still using vibrating tools. An article released by Medical News Today highlights that cold weather worsens the whitening of your fingers by making it even whiter and numb. We could therefore assume that coldness can escalate Raynaud’s to its secondary form (being VWF) as the circulation of blood becomes extremely minimal leading to numbness and pain on your fingertips.

Your Employer’s Responsibilities

 

For this reason, it is essential and extremely important for employers to take the appropriate action to prevent this from happening (in order to comply with the Control Of Vibration at Work Regulation (2005). It is also the employer’s responsibility to make sure that regular breaks are taken by workers working with vibrating tools during cold seasons to allow workers to warm their hands for better blood circulation. Similar “rotation” on jobs and use of machinery should also be followed by employers to avoid any health threats.

Common symptoms for VWF are:

  • whiteness in the fingers, which starts at the tips and spreads towards the palms
  • Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands, arms or shoulders.
  • Weakness or stiffness in the hands, arms or shoulders, making everyday tasks difficult.

Although there is no cure for this, you are still able to claim through services specifically designated for workers’ negligence cases, to be provided with legal advice on this matter and possibly be compensated if you suffer from VWF due to your profession. As advised above, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide the relevant gears to ensure you’re safe so you wouldn’t be affected by this or any other injuries/diseases. Therefore, you should be entitled to be compensated should they fail to do this during or after your employment.

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