Case Study: Repair and Maintenance Operative Claims Against his Employer for Vibration White Finger 

A repair and maintenance operative has successfully won a £13,000 settlement from his former employer after being diagnosed with vibration white finger.

DB was in his mid-30s when he started to experience pain, numbness and some tingling in his right hand and wrist with occasional shooting pain going up his arm.  The pain was so severe that it woke him during the night about two nights a week.

Diagnosis of HAVS

He saw his GP who suggested that it may be Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), commonly known as vibration white finger, and is often caused by using power tools at work.  DB had been employed as a repair and maintenance operative for nine years, carrying out pallet repair work using a pneumatic nail gun and cengar saws.  He had performed the same type of work for up to six hours a day.   

DB was told that there is no cure for the disease, and was prescribed painkillers and other medication that would try to help soothe his symptoms.  His GP also advised him that he needed to stop using the power tools and that even if he changes his job the problem may get worse.

The claim

DB called JMW to see if he could make a claim against his employer’s insurer.

DB’s lawyer explained to him that he would have to show that his employer had not followed proper procedure, and that this had resulted in the illness that he now had. DB’s lawyer explained that his employer should have;

  • carried out a risk assessment to identify that the type of work was may cause HAVS.
  • trained DB in safe use of the tools.
  • modified the tools and equipment so that they were not hazardous to his health.
  • organised DB’s work so that he was not exposed to vibration for long periods.
  • monitored the vibration levels which DB was exposed to.
  • restricted his exposure to the vibration so that it was not injurious to his health.
  • provided protective gloves.


DB’s lawyer issued a claim on his behalf and arranged for an expert to examine DB to give an accurate picture of how his disease and how it may progress. The expert pointed out that the symptoms may worsen and that DB would be at a disadvantage on the labour market. DB’s lawyer included this information in the claim for compensation and settled the case for £13,000. 

If you or someone you know contracted Vibration White Finger/ Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome at work, contact us on 0800 054 6570 or fill out a contact form to discuss whether you have a case to make a claim.

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