Hand arm vibration is linked to a generally irreversible condition of the fingers and hands known as hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). First recognised in 1918, HAVS was previously known as 'dead hand disease' or 'vibration white finger' and is characterised by tingling and numbness in the fingers.
Continued exposure to vibration can cause the fingertips to turn white, accompanied by intense pain, especially in cold conditions. In the later stages of HAVS, these attacks can occur off the job as well as on it, and can have a debilitating day to day impact.
Hand arm vibration mainly affects people who regularly use vibrating pneumatic, electrical, hydraulic or petrol powered hand tools. Sufferers typically take many months to recover and may suffer permanent damage in severe cases.