Hand-arm vibration (HAV) from hand-held vibrating machines increases the risk of injury in the form of vasoconstriction in the fingers, commonly named as vibration induced white fingers (VWF). Cold temperature may increase that risk. This experimental study examined and compared the effects of the skin temperature of the hands during and after exposure to HAV in thermoneutral and cold conditions. Fourteen subjects were exposed to three conditions: 25°C with HAV, 5°C with HAV or 5°C without HAV. Their skin temperatures were continuously recorded for the thumbs, index fingers, palms, and back of hands. After 20 min of acclimatization, the subjects held, for five min, two handles where the right handle could vibrate at 5 m/s2 and the left was stationary. Finally, they released their grip and stood still for 10 more min. HAV had no additional cooling effect in cold during gripping of the handles. After the subjects released the handles there was only a HAV-induced cooling effect in the left palm with on average 0.5°C colder skin temperature. A single exposure to HAV will not cause an injury such as VWF, but as the present study show: short-term exposure to HAV causes some changes in skin temperature.
Keywords: Cold; Exposure; Hand-arm vibrations; Skin temperature.