Vibration Induced White Finger Disease is accepted as an industrial disease under sections 2(1) and 15 of the Workplace Safety Insurance Act as peculiar to, and characteristic of a process, trade or occupation involving exposure to high frequency, rapid acceleration vibratory tools.
Vibration Induced White Finger Disease may be labelled:
- Vibration Disease
- Chipper's Syndrome
- Raynaud's Phenomenon associated with the use of vibratory tools, or
- "Dead Hands" Syndrome.
Signs and symptoms
Characterised by blanching and numbness of the fingers induced by prolonged use of vibratory tools of high frequency and rapid acceleration, the signs and symptoms are due to vasospasm in the digital arteries.
When the condition is established, the vasospasm is triggered by exposure to cold, e.g., localised cooling of the extremity or generalised whole body cooling.
If the worker avoids working with vibratory tools in the early stages of the disease, recovery does occur. In cases where the pathology is quite advanced, the worker will never completely recover from sensitivity to cold.
Hazardous vibratory tools
Vibration Induced White Finger Disease is associated with tools handled by:
- foundry workers employed in grinding, chipping, scaling, and caulking
- thor-hammer operators in the automotive industry
- stone cutters using pneumatic tools of medium to light weight and high frequency vibration
- chainsaw operators
- underground miners who use high frequency jack-leg drills.
Based on medical evidence, which is supplied on the Doctor's Report-Vibration Induced White Finger Disease, Form 8W, claims for vibration induced white finger disease are favourably considered when the following circumstances apply
- there is a clear and adequate history of 2 or more years continuous employment on high frequency, rapid acceleration vibratory tools immediately preceding the onset of vasospastic response,
- the condition has been confirmed on medical examination by a specialist consultant in vascular disease.
If the diagnosis is medically compatible to the worker's employment history, which is received on the Worker's and Employer's Report of Vibration Induced White Finger Disease, Forms 6W and 7W respectively, the claim is allowed.
Removal from exposure employment
If the WSIB's Occupational Medicine Consultant recommends that the worker be removed from exposure employment due to this condition, payment of benefits may be considered for as long as the disease persists.
These benefits usually consist of temporary disability benefits/loss of earnings, and vocational rehabilitation services/labour market re-entry if the need is identified.
Permanent Disability/Impairment Award
A permanent disability or impairment award is considered two years after a diagnosis is confirmed.
A permanent award is processed when in the opinion of the WSIB's Occupational Medicine Consultant, the condition will not significantly change.
Permanent awards will be reviewed on request.
If the medical opinion is that the condition may change, a provisional permanent disability award is made.
The provisional award is reviewed prior to the expiry date.
This policy applies to all accidents.
This document replaces 04-03-08.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 2(1), 15
Board of Directors
#8(XIII), June 10, 2004, Page 6619