What is ‘White Finger’?

If you work in the construction industry, you have probably heard the term “White Finger” in connection to operational hazards and workplace health & safety many times.

As employee and customer well-being is an issue close to our hearts, we thought that raising awareness of this potentially disabling condition could only be a good thing.

Why is it called “White Finger?”

Vibration White Finger is the more colloquial name for HAVS (Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome) or Raynaud's phenomenon and is a condition most commonly associated by the chronic use of vibrating equipment in the workplace.

The malady gets its nickname from the striking white, dead-looking appearance of the finger caused by a lack of blood, which also coincides with a tingling sensation. These are symptoms of prolonged vibration-induced blood vessel and nerve damage.

If the condition worsens, the loss of colouration becomes ever more frequent (particularly when exposed to cold temperatures) and can even deteriorate to the extent where dexterity is lost entirely.

Complete loss of dexterity would almost certainly inhibit a person’s quality of life and be a disaster from an employability standpoint.

Everyday tasks, such as fastening small buttons on clothes, may become difficult or impossible depending on how advanced the condition is.

5 Tips to Prevent White Finger in the Workplace

1. Work with vibration absorbing tools

Look out for tools that incorporate vibration dampening technology or products designed to reduce the amount of pressure or force that an operator has to apply to a workpiece.

Not only will this help to keep employees safe from harm, it will aid workplace health and safety compliance.

Additionally, investment in this kind of equipment makes good business sense, why? 

  • Less worker downtime (boosting productivity)
  • Quality of work improvement (fewer vibrations gives the operator more control) 
  • Fewer sick days

As with any job, please ensure that you have the right tool and are fully trained to use it.

2. Take regular breaks

It is essential that exposure time is limited and regular breaks are taken whenever a job involves heavy vibrating equipment.

According to The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 in the UK, where there is a hand-arm exposure action value of 2.5 m/s2 A(8) and above, employers are obligated to introduce technical and organisational measures to reduce that exposure.

3. Always keep your hands warm

A key trigger and amplification factor in the development of White Finger is the cold. Although vibration causes the White Finger, it is often cold conditions that precipitate the symptoms.

Keeping hands warm during work can keep the adverse effects at bay; so always wear gloves!

4. Wear Anti-Vibration Gloves

Better yet, invest in a good pair of anti-vibration gloves. Alongside keeping your hands warm, the gloves are designed to significantly reduce the amount of vibration directly transferred to the hands and arms.

The gloves are not going to eliminate all vibrations and there are a variety of products out there, so do your research before you make any purchase.

5. Give up smoking

One of the well-known side effects of smoking is the narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction) and associated reduced blood flow to the extremities i.e. the fingers that this causes.

In conditions such as White Finger therefore, the symptoms are heightened by smoke inhalation and also take longer to alleviate than in people who do not smoke.

Norton Clipper products that help to reduce vibration

At Norton we are investing time and money in developing tools and equipment that addresses this issue of White Finger and improve operator comfort at the source.

We’ve picked out some of our best vibration dampening products that contribute towards achieving those objectives.

Norton Clipper CG Comfort Grinding Cup -

Incorporating vibration dampening technology in the form of a specialised rubber seal on the inside of the cup.

The rubber absorbs a significant portion of the vibration generated from grinding before they reach the operator’s hands.

This grinding cup makes use of second generation iHD auto attachment technology, each segment delivers incredibly high resistance and uniform density; negating the need to apply high pressure when grinding and thus further enhancing operator comfort and reducing vibrations.

Norton Clipper Grinding Cup Comfort

Norton Clipper CS451 Low Vibration Floor Saw -

Equipped with adjustable vibration absorbing handlebars, the CS451 floor saw is built for comfort.

This machine achieves a reduction of up to 40% in vibration levels, offering you high performance cutting without the rugged experience of other floor saws.

Tested according to the latest European Standard EN12096/EN13862, this floor saw has one of the lowest levels of vibration on the market.

Watch our CS451 video to see this floor saw in action.

Norton Clipper CS451 Floor Saw

Visit us at BAUMA

If you enjoyed this article, then why not join us at the world’s largest trade fair for the construction industry – BAUMA.

During the event, we will be displaying (amongst many other machines and products) the Norton CG Comfort Grinding Cup and Norton Clipper CS451 Low Vibration Floor Saw and this year, our stand is centred around the need to provide operator comfort and safety.

BAUMA takes place between 8th – 14th April and tickets for the show are available from their website. Hopefully we will see you there!

Information sources