The Basics of Ergonomics (Part 3)

1. Vibration and impact related injuries – continuous, repeated vibrations to the hands and wrists (though by no means limited to these) can result in vibration white finger (VWF), also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Vibrations in the 5-150 Hz are the most dangerous and responsible for most of the cases of VWF.


  • Tingling or numbness at the end of the work shift.
  • Color changes – White or pale fingers are usually the first symptom but this is usually followed by redness or a bluish color as the blood returns to the fingers.
  • Loss of dexterity as fingers are weakened and muscles start to become damaged.

Preventing VWF:

  • Look first of all for alternate ways of doing the job that do not require constant vibration being transferred to the fingers
  • If vibration tools must be used, look for tools that have a higher or lower frequency range.
  • Use anti-vibration gloves
  • Use tool wraps
  • Reduce the vibrations to the fingers by holding the tool loosely
  • Take frequent breaks (at least 10 minutes for every hour of work)
  • Keep your hands warm. Cold hands have a slower blood flow which accelerates and aggravates that problem.

A quick image search on the web will show you why you want to take this issue seriously. The end result of untreated white finger is the same as severe frostbite, so if you need to use vibrating tools, learn to protect against VWF.


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