Can I still make a White Finger claim?
Vibration White finger (VWF) is an industrial injury which is also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome or HAVs. It is common amongst workers who use vibrating tools on a regular basis, causing a repetitive strain injury. Over a period of time, it affects the blood vessels, nerves, joints and muscles of the hands and wrists.Often, sufferers from the condition will not be aware that they could make a white finger claim and recover compensation from their employer(s) or former employer(s) by.
According to the HSE website workers who regularly use hand held or hand-guided power machine tools for 15 minutes or more per day in the case of hammer action tools and one hour or more per day if using some rotary and other action tools.
Some examples of the types of machine where the regular use of, can cause VWF/HAVs are;
- Hammer drills
- Concrete breakers
- Disc cutters
- Chipping hammers Power mowers
- Needle guns
Workers who are most at risk of getting VWF are those who work or worked in;
- Shipbuilding and repair
- Building and construction
- Heavy Engineering
- Motor vehicle manufacturing and repair
- Miners and quarry workers
- Road building and maintenance
However, the occurrence of VWF or HAVs is not restricted to those working in these industries.
- Tingling sensation in the fingers, usually in the fingertips but can also cover the whole extent of the finger
- Numbness or pain in the fingers
- A cold sensation in the fingers: the condition often becomes worse in cold weather
- Discolouration of the fingers; usually a whiteness in the fingertips but sometimes turning blue or red
- Aches and pains in the muscles and joints of the hand, wrist and arm. This can lead to difficulty in gripping things.
Some people will suffer with a mixture of symptoms, some will find that they experience them all. The condition often gets worse over a period of time to the point where they can have serious, long lasting debilitating effects.
Employers Duty of Care in relation to the control and prevention of VWF
A duty of care to employees in relation to VWF/HAVs was imposed on employers by the Control of Vibration at Work 2005 regulations. The regulations provide, that amongst other things an employer must take the following measures and shall include consideration of;
(a)other working methods which eliminate or reduce exposure to vibration;
(b)choice of work equipment of appropriate ergonomic design which, taking account of the work to be done, produces the least possible vibration;
(c)the provision of auxiliary equipment which reduces the risk of injuries caused by vibration;
(d)appropriate maintenance programmes for work equipment, the workplace and workplace systems;
(e)the design and layout of workplaces, work stations and rest facilities;
(f)suitable and sufficient information and training for employees, such that work equipment may be used correctly and safely, in order to minimise their exposure to vibration;
(g)limitation of the duration and magnitude of exposure to vibration;
(h)appropriate work schedules with adequate rest periods; and
(i)the provision of clothing to protect employees from cold and damp.
The introduction of the regulations has undoubtedly brought about a reduction in the numbers of new reported cases of VWF/HAVs. HSE figures show a general reduction in the number of claims for VWF from 2010 to 2016, with just over 450 new cases being reported in 2016.
However, if employers are not taking the appropriate measures to protect their employees from the risks of VWF, then they are in breach of duty to their employees and those individuals who do then go on to suffer from VWF, will be able to make a claim against their employers for VWF compensation.
If you work or worked with vibrating tools and are worried that you might have the symptoms of VWF then you should make an appointment to visit your GP to have the problem investigated.
As with all personal injury, industrial disease or medical negligence compensation claims, there is a time limit for commencing a claim. In relation VWF compensation claims the time limit is three years and this starts from;
- 1.The date that you are diagnosed with the condition by your doctor, or
- 2.The date of knowledge which basically means when you became aware that you had a physical condition that was probably caused by something that your employers had done or had failed to do.
If you think you might have VWF then contact us here at Mayiclaim, as we work with specialist VWF compensation claim solicitors who will be able to advise you what you should do next and whether they think you might have reasonable prospects of making a claim.
If you do decide to make a VWF compensation claim through one of our solicitors, then they will be able to act for you on a No Win, No Fee basis, meaning that if your claim is not successful, there will be nothing to pay!