Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) formerly known as Vibration White Finger (VWF) is a condition caused by exposure of the hands and arms to excessive vibration as a result of using handheld tools such as pneumatic drills, grinders, chipping hammers and the like.

HAVS has two main components, namely damage to the blood vessels and damage to the nerves of the hands and arms.  Symptoms include loss of grip strength in the hands, and loss of sensation, numbness and tingling in the fingers.  The fingers typically go white when exposed to cold, then become red and painful on recovery.  The condition is preventable but once the damage is done the nerve damage is permanent, although the damage to the blood vessels can reverse to some extent if the exposure to vibration ends.

Who is at risk of hand arm vibration syndrome?

Those at risk are those who regularly use hand-held or hand-guided tools such as: -

  • Concrete breakers
  • Concrete pokers
  • Sanders, grinder and disc cutters
  • Hammer drills
  • Chipping hammers
  • Chain saws, brush cutters, hedge trimmers
  • Powered mowers
  • Scabblers or needle guns.
Who is at risk of hand arm vibration syndrome?
What industries are most likely to be affected?

What industries are most likely to be affected?

The industries most likely to involve the use of such tools are any requiring regular and frequent use of these types of tools, for example:

  • Building and maintenance of roads and railways
  • Construction
  • Estate management, maintenance of grounds, parks etc
  • Forestry
  • Foundries
  • Heavy engineering
  • Manufacturing of concrete produces
  • Mines and quarries
  • Motor vehicle manufacturing and repair
  • Public utilities
  • Shipbuilding and repair


The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 were introduced in the UK to protect workers from excessive exposure to vibration at work and these came into force on 6th July 2005.  However, despite this legislation, many employees are still exposed to vibration levels which cause damage. 

The Regulations require employers to take steps to minimise the risk to their employees.  Improved tool design and maintenance and reduction of the amount of time using such tools will reduce the risks.  Gloves keeping the hands warm will reduce the amount of blanching (whiting) but there is no evidence they can assist in preventing the condition.  Employers should be looking to introduce alternative processes, equipment or working methods to reduce exposure and thus reduce the risk to employees.  They should also be regularly monitoring the health of staff to ensure any issues are detected and dealt with at an early stage. 

How can we help?

The specialist Industrial Disease team at Tilly Bailey & Irvine have dealt with successful claims for hundreds of employees who are suffering from HAVS as a result of exposure to vibration in their employment.

If you believe you have been exposed to excessive vibration in your current or past employment and are suffering from any of the symptoms above, please contact our experienced team on 01429 264101 or fill in an online enquiry form and someone will be in touch.

Call: 01429 264101
How can we help?