The Safety Brief logo
The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Vibration White Finger

Vibration White Finger is an injury from using vibrating tools over extended periods. Also known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome, it can cause permanent damage.

The white fingers name comes from low blood flow due to the collapse of vessels. Nerves and muscles are also injured with excessive vibration.

Tools in construction and industry are the typical causes of vibration, but lawn care tools and video game controllers can also be a danger.

In this podcast, Dan Clark details six ways for workers and/or employers to reduce hand vibration in the workplace. Dan also explains how it’s very important to treat Vibration White Finger early, because tissue damage is often irreversible.


intro music and effects

Dan Clark: Imagine: After an hour of power tool use, your hands might tingle. After thousands of hours, that vibration can cause real damage. Real damage called Vibration White Finger.

Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

Using vibrating tools over extended periods can cause pain, tingling, burning and white fingers. Vibration White Finger is also known as white finger disease, Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome, or Work-Related Reynaud’s Syndrome.

The white fingers come from restricted blood flow. With vibration blood vessels collapse. Add cold weather to this equation, and these hand-arm vibration symptoms become even worse. Plus, vibration damages nerves and muscles in the hands.

Vibration_White_Finger-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Vibration White Finger can be caused by likely culprits such as chainsaws, sanders, polishers, grinders, impact drills and scaling hammers. Other machines and devices which put fingers at risk include lawnmowers and vibrating video game controllers. It’s true. Spend enough time with one, and it could be bad for your hands.

How can workplaces reduce the vibration risks? Follow safe trigger-time guidelines. Trigger-time is the safe amount of time a worker can use a given tool. This depends on how much the tool vibrates. The more the tool vibrates, the shorter amount of time it should be used.

Here are some methods for reducing vibration exposure:

  1. Grip the tool as lightly as possible, but not so light that it could be dropped.
  2. Keep hands warm. The cold makes symptoms worse.
  3. Maintain tools. Old tools that are off-balance or out of calibration will vibrate more.
  4. Buy tools that vibrate less. Many companies now make these because Europe restricts the amount tools can vibrate.
  5. Use administrative controls such as regular breaks—10 to 15 minutes every hour—or only scheduling workers to do the vibrating tool tasks for short amounts of time.
  6. Wear anti-vibration gloves. Yes, they make them.

Vibration White Finger is often under-reported, and by the time employees go for medical attention treatment may not be effective. Let workers know about Vibration White Finger, the symptoms and prevention methods ahead of time.

That’s all for this episode on Vibration White Finger. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply.


Hand image © ℗ 2013 Andy Lidstone © ℗ 2014 Photodune

sounds provided by and