Claiming compensation for occupational diseases in the United Kingdom is a right for workers (manual or office) all over the country. One of the many diseases that employees may claim compensation for is VWF (Vibration White Finger), which is a condition that stems from extreme exposure to vibration.
VWF is a condition that commonly may occur in factories and construction sites as VWF can be caused by exposure to vibrating tools like pneumatic drills. Machinery used that may lead to VWF may include staple guns, jigger picks, grinding tools, Kango hammers, descaling guns, needle guns, nut runners, and windy guns.
In time, VWF slowly worsens and the symptoms’ severity depends on the extent of vibration the sufferer experiences and the exposure’s duration. VWF is blood supply disorder that affects the hand and fingers. Sufferers of VWF often complain of tingling fingers, whiteness affecting the fingertips, and numbness of the hands. Cold temperatures often trigger the symptoms.
For sufferers of VWF, the fingers’ blood vessels go into spasm and this limits the blood flow and causes the fingertips to become whitish in color. To keep blood within blood vessel tissues, the vessels dilate and the fingers become blue when the blood is used. After the spasm episode, blood returns to the fingers, which become red. Often painful, the symptoms can last from 10 to 15 minutes or up to an hour.
There is no treatment for VMF and the sufferer could develop problems that concern dexterity and grip and which may lead to manipulating or picking up small objects. The condition could also affect recreational, work, and home activities. Oftentimes, there is a latency period or delay between ill health and exposure, which could range from several months to a few years. However, experts say that if symptoms emerge more than two years after vibration has stopped, those symptoms are not considered to be related causally to exposure to vibration.
It is the duty of the employer to protect the employee from occupational hazards. If the worker’s employer is unable to protect the employee from the onslaught of vibration white finger or any other work-related injuries, the employee has the right to claim for compensation and consider legal options.
Regarding VWF, the employee has a claim if he or she can prove that the employer was negligent in protecting the employee from vibrating tools’ harmful effects. Through its laws, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) mandates employers to check the injury risks from vibrating power tools and then move to reduce to a low level or eliminate the risk.
The employer should do it by ensuring breaks are taken regularly by employees and limit time of use of vibrating machinery. Employers should also inform workers of the tools’ risk and educate them on how to protect themselves.
If the employee has filed a legal claim against the employer, he or she can claim for the suffering and pain caused by VWF as well as financial loss from medical expenses, earnings loss, or time off work. To make sure the employee does not need to file any claim, the employer must provide a health and safe working environment for the employee.