Vibration White Finger (VWF) Claims Advice
Vibration White Finger (VWF), also known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome or HAVS, is a type of Raynaud's Disease which is a condition caused by a restriction of the blood supply to the extremities such as the toes, fingers, nose, ears, thumbs and arms.
It is classed as an industrial disease because it often affects people who work with vibrating power tools, such as pneumatic drills, power drills, sanders, hedge trimmers, strimmers, chain saws, disc cutters, needle guns, power mowers and grinders, or any type of tool that makes a person's hand or fingers tingle or go numb after 5 minutes of use. VWF can also be a risk to employees who work in extremely cold temperatures.
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It is estimated that about 1 in 10 people who use vibrating power tools on a regular basis go on to suffer with Vibration White Finger, a condition which is generally irreversible and can cost people their jobs. The fact that it is so serious and irreversible means that it is vital for employers and companies to take the risk seriously and to take adequate steps to protect employees from VWF.
The law requires employers to carry out risk assessments so that potential risks and hazards can be identified and these risks can be eliminated or reduced. If a company has not carried out a risk assessment or has not taken steps to protect its employees from VWF, then the company can be prosecuted and an employee has a good chance of winning personal injury compensation.
What you could receive from a Vibration White Finger Claim
In 2006, Barry Wallis from Leeds was awarded £7,500 in personal injury compensation after he contracted Vibration White Finger from using vibratory equipment such as Jigger picks, chainsaws, grinders and Stihl saws for over 20 years. As a result of his job, Mr Wallis now suffers from a weak grip and numbness and tingling in his fingers. He won the compensation because his company had never warned him of the risks involved in working with this type of equipment and he had never been offered any protective equipment.
In another case, Charcon Tunnels had to pay £10,000 in compensation to an employee who contracted VWF after using vibrating power tools for up to 5 hours a day on a daily basis. The man was left unable to enjoy his favourite pastime of darts and unable to even button up his clothes.
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It is so easy for employers to protect employees from Vibration White Finger, so there really is no excuse. Employers can and should:-
-- Carry out a thorough risk assessment of the workplace to identify all risks and hazards.
-- If risks of VWF are identified, the company should reduce or eliminate exposure to vibratory tools by offering lower vibration alternatives.
-- Provide the appropriate tools for the task.
-- Keep all tools sharp and properly maintained.
-- Provide adequate protection for employees.
-- Ensure that warm clothes are worn by employees working in cold conditions.
-- Ensure that employees take regular rest breaks.
-- Give all employees adequate training in using power tools and ensure that they know how to help circulation in fingers and hands by exercising them.
If an employer has not taken these steps or has ignored your symptoms, and you suffer VWF as a result, you will have an excellent chance of winning your case and receiving personal injury compensation. You should seek advice from an injury solicitor with expertise in claiming for industrial diseases as soon as you are diagnosed with the condition. You should not feel guilty pursuing a claim for compensation when your employer has not complied with the law and kept you safe. VWF can really affect your quality of life and leave you unable to work or unable to enjoy your retirement to the full. The condition may also leave you with medical bills, pain and lost earnings, so compensation can really help you.
Our personal injury lawyers can work on a no win no fee basis and are experienced in handling these types of cases. They will build a case on your behalf and let you know the likelihood of success and what payout you can hope to receive.
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