Vibration White Finger & Secondary Raynaud`s
February is Raynaud's Awareness Month
Hand-arm vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). It can also cause specific diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome and secondary Raynaud's (Raynaud's phenomenon) or Vibration White Finger - where the small blood vessels in the extremities such as hands and fingers (usually with HAVS) and feet or toes become over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, the cold. This causes a Raynaud's attack where the fingers sometimes change colour, but not always, from white to blue, to red.
There are two different types of Raynaud's, Primary and Secondary. Primary is usually the less serious of the two types as the condition is generally mild and manageable, whilst people experiencing secondary Raynaud's will usually have more severe symptoms. Exposure to vibrating power tools can be one of the causes of secondary Raynaud's and the term Vibration white finger is a term used when secondary Raynaud's has been caused by vibration. This typically happens to people who regularly use certain types of vibrating tools, such as:
- sanders, grinders and disc cutters
- hammer drills
- chainsaws, hedge trimmers and power mowers
- Concrete breakers/road breakers
- Cut-off saws (for stone etc)
- Impact wrenches
- Needle scalers
- Pedestal grinders
- Power hammers and chisels
- Powered lawn mowers
- Powered sanders
- Strimmers/brush cutters
- Jet washers
- Hand-held grinders
A Raynaud's attack can be uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, process. It can also make everyday tasks, like buttoning a jacket or unzipping a purse, very difficult.
Any vibrating tool that causes tingling or numbness in your fingers could lead to vibration white finger. Symptoms include:
- a colour change in the extremities such as hands or feet
- cold extremities and numbness
- tingling or pain
For more information about Raynaud's Disease (primary and secondary) its causes and treatment, please visit Scleroderma & Raynaud's UK
Do you have a hand-arm vibration problem at work?
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 were introduced to better protect workers from vibration at work and came into force in July 2005. By law, as an employer, you must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposure to hand-arm vibration so that you can protect your employees from risks to their health.
This will depend on whether your employees regularly and frequently work with vibrating tools and equipment and/or handle vibrating materials. It will also depend on how long your employees are exposed to vibration and at what level. As a simple guide, you will probably need to do something about vibration exposures if any of the following apply.
- Do your employees complain of tingling and numbness in their hands or fingers after using vibrating tools?
- Do your employees hold workpieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders?
- Do your employees regularly use hand-held or hand-guided power tools and machines such as:
- concrete breakers, concrete pokers
- sanders, grinders, disc cutters
- hammer drills
- chipping hammers
- chainsaws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers
- powered mowers
- scabblers or needle guns