Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1986;12(4):296-300    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2149

Vibration-induced white finger among selected underground rock drillers in British Columbia.

by Brubaker RL, Mackenzie CJ, Hutton SG

Ninety-five rock drillers who used pneumatic hand-held drills were interviewed and tested. Thirty-seven were excluded because of factors predisposing to the appearance of white fingers other than exposure to industrial hand-drill vibration. Forty-five percent of the remaining 58 drillers suffered from periodic attacks of Raynaud's phenomenon. Symptoms were present in 25% of the drillers exposed for 1-5 years and in 80% of those exposed for greater than or equal to 16 years. Nine percent of the cases were classified as severe. The median latency for the onset of the blanching symptoms was 7.5 years. The prevalence of Raynaud's phenomenon was 4% among a reference group of 56 miners not exposed to hand vibration and corrected for possible predisposing factors. Objective evidence indicated delayed finger rewarming after a combination of digital ischemia and cooling in 75% of the drillers with blanching symptoms and 18% of the referents without symptoms. There was evidence of an increased frequency of vibration-induced white finger among current cigarette smokers. Weighted 4-h equivalent acceleration levels measured from the handles of 26 jack-leg and 13 stoper drills from the same mines as the miners ranged from 15 to 32 m/s2. These levels exceed recommended guidelines of the International Organization for Standardization.