Prevalence of vibration-induced white finger and assessment of vibration exposure among travertine workers in Italy

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1988;61(1-2):25-34. doi: 10.1007/BF00381604.


Among 76 stonedrillers and stonecutters/chippers working in the Rapolano travertine quarries (Tuscany, Italy), 27 subjects (35.5%) were affected with vibration-induced white finger (VWF). The median latent period for VWF was ten years (range 0.1-26 years). A VWF prevalence of 8% was found among 60 comparable controls (P less than 0.0001). Vibration measurements showed that the frequency-weighted accelerations for two rock-drills and two small chipping hammers ranged from 19.7 to 36.4 m/s2. Weighted accelerations between 2.4 and 4.1 m/s2 were measured on the handles of a vertical grinder and a hand cutter. Vibration data, daily exposure time and total duration of exposure period were used to calculate two indicators of vibration dose such as the four-hour, energy-equivalent, frequency-weighted acceleration (m/s2) and the vibration exposure level (dB). A significant association between the vibration exposure level and the severity of VWF stages was observed among the travertine operators. The dose-effect relationship proposed by ISO 5349 was not suitable for the data of the present study because it overestimates the risk due to hand-transmitted vibration in the travertine workers. Finally, the results of a cold test indicated that the rewarming time of fingertips to room temperature was more prolonged in the operators with VWF than in those without VWF and in the controls.

MeSH terms

  • Cold Temperature
  • Fingers / blood supply*
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / epidemiology*
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Italy
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining / instrumentation*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Paresthesia / epidemiology
  • Raynaud Disease / epidemiology
  • Vibration / adverse effects*