If VWF has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Vibration white finger (VWF) is a condition caused by prolonged use of vibrating hand-held machinery, leading to numbness, white patches, and blood vessel constriction in the fingers. Treatments include avoiding exposure to vibration, medication, and in some cases, surgery.
If you have been affected by VWF, we can help. If your injuries were caused by your employer's actions or negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
Vibration white finger (VWF) is an industrial injury, caused by prolonged and excessive use of vibrating tools and equipment in the workplace.
A Medical Research Council survey estimated there are 301,000 cases of vibration white finger in the UK. The condition falls under the umbrella term 'Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)', which includes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). VWF is sometimes colloquially referred to as 'wax finger' and 'dead finger'.
If you decide to make a vibration white finger claim, your personal injury solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Am I eligible for vibration white finger compensation?
You will be able to claim compensation if you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
Can I make a claim even if I'm partly liable?
Pinpointing liability for an accident will depend on the context, with different legal principles applying to different circumstances.
In our 2023 Work Injury Claimant Survey, 26.02% of injured workers felt they were at least partly responsible for their accident or injuries.
Your claim could still be possible if your actions contributed to your injury or illness. If you were injured on the job by a co-worker's actions, you can still claim compensation from your employer, based on the principle of vicarious liability.
How long do I have to claim compensation for vibration white finger?
In most cases, you have up to 3 years from the date of your accident or injury to start a claim.
If your injury or illness is not immediately apparent, the 3-year time limit starts from the date that you injury or illness was diagnosed and your were informed of the likely caused.
How much compensation can I claim for vibration white finger?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Vibration White Finger
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you've incurred as a result of your VWF Compensation can include lost wages, bonuses, benefits and other perks, and any additional expenses directly related to your injury.
These damages will also cover any medical or treatment bills, such as removal from exposure, pain medication, physical therapy and vasodilators.
Average Vibration White Finger general damages compensation
The following Vibration White Finger payouts refer to the Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases, Sixteenth Edition by the Judicial College.These tables are used by solicitors or by the courts as a starting point when calculating your compensation.
Please note: these average figures represent general damages only, and do not include any element of special damages (e.g. lost wages).
|Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)|
|Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)||Minor||Minor symptoms||£2,720 to £7,850|
|Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)||Moderate||Minor symptoms in cold weather||£7,850 to £15,240|
|Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)||Serious||Year-round symptoms||£15,240 to £28,760|
|Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)||Severe||Affecting both sides in a younger person causing a change in job||£28,760 to £34,940|
|Vibration White Finger (VWF)|
|Vibration White Finger (VWF)||Minor||Minor symptoms||£2,720 to £7,850|
|Vibration White Finger (VWF)||Moderate||Minor symptoms in cold weather||£7,850 to £15,240|
|Vibration White Finger (VWF)||Serious||Year-round symptoms||£15,240 to £28,760|
|Vibration White Finger (VWF)||Severe||Affecting both sides in a younger person causing a change in job||£28,760 to £34,940|
Symptoms of vibration white finger
Vibration White Finger is the result of an injury to the nerves, muscles, and blood vessels in the arm, hand, wrist, and fingers. Symptoms of VWF vary with some people experiencing almost all of the common symptoms, while others experience only one or two.
Typical symptoms of VWF include:
- Tingling sensations or numbness in the fingertips. These sensations can extend up the whole length of the fingers. Symptoms can be intermittent or permanent, making tasks like fastening buttons or picking up small objects difficult.
- Cold fingers and skin discolouration of the fingers. In some cases, fingers can turn from white to blue, or red. These symptoms are caused by a form of Raynaud's Disease, which is often triggered by being out in cold weather or holding cold objects.
- Aches and pains in the arms, hands, and fingers. These symptoms are believed to be caused by damage to muscles, joints or bones. In some cases, reduced strength is experienced when trying to grip objects.
Compensation awards for VWF take into account the impact specific symptoms have on your life and ability to work.
How is VWF diagnosed?
Symptoms of vibration white finger often do not appear immediately after exposure to vibration. Symptoms can take ten years or more to manifest.
When diagnosing VWF, a specialist will consider your occupational history when seeking to establish a link between your work and your symptoms.
To formally diagnose VWF, the doctor will require:
- Evidence of long-term occupational exposure to vibration
- Incidents of skin discolouration in the fingers
- Exclusion of other possible causes
- Calluses on the hand, diminished sensation in the fingers, and muscle weakness are additional factors that will support a diagnosis
You do not need to have a form diagnosis of VWF before you start a claim. Your solicitor will arrange for an independent medical assessment to help support your case.
Preventing vibration white finger in the workplace
The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 exist to protect workers from developing VWF. Under the regulations, employers have a duty of care to their employees. Employers are legally required to take steps to minimise the risk of developing VWF, such as:
- Providing regular breaks away from using vibrating tools and equipment
- Providing appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), e.g. anti-vibration gloves
- Keeping the working environment temperature within reasonable limits
- Providing the correct tools for the job
- Providing appropriate training on the operation and use of vibrating tools
According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, the introduction of preventative measures is gradually reducing the number of new cases of VWF.
If risk management measures were not observed, such as an employer providing inadequate protective equipment, an injury claim may be possible.
When should I start a VWF claim?
If you are injured in an accident, you would normally be able to make a claim within 3 years of the accident.
However, work-related illnesses often can't be traced back to a single event, but to ongoing circumstances or exposure. As vibration white finger results from prolonged and excessive use of vibrating tools and equipment, the clock starts ticking from the date of knowledge.
The date of knowledge is the date that you became aware of your injury, or could, with reasonable diligence, have been aware. I most cases the date of knowledge for a VWF claim will be the date of diagnosis.
You should therefore commence your claim within 3 years of a confirmed diagnosis. Due to the nature of the condition, most VWF claims are not started until many years after the work that led to the injury.
How did your injury happen?
Claiming compensation depends on the cause of your Vibration White Finger. Click the icons below for read more:
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About the author
Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.