British Association for the Advancement of Science: Power tool workers at risk of 'white finger disease'
Like the naturally occurring form of Reynaud's, which affects about one in ten women, the disease is characterised by poor circulation and pain in the hands, but is caused by chainsaws and other hand-held power tools.
According to Sir John Cullen, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, vibrational white finger is on the increase, with 5,400 registered cases in the last year and an estimated 20,000 sufferers in Britain.
The disease starts with blanching of the fingertips. When blood returns to the fingers the sufferer can experience throbbing pain, particularly in cold weather, which may last for up to an hour.
Repetitive exposure over two years or more can irreversibly damage blood vessels and nerves.
Sir John said yesterday that vibration levels were being measured in the foundry industry and surveys in the ship-building and repair industries would begin soon. Eventually, new lower vibration standards would be set.
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