Unite member developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a result of the excessive use of vibrating tools

Thompsons Solicitors logoA Bradford man, who developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) as a result of the excessive use of vibrating tools, has secured compensation.

Throughout his employment at Incommunities Group Plc, the man has worked on a number of housing refurbishment schemes. This involves the daily use of vibrating tools including drills, stihl saws, jigsaws and kango hammers.

His use of the tools was not monitored in any way for exposure to vibration by his employer and there was no health surveillance in place to protect him or his colleagues. In addition, Incommunities Group failed to provide their employees with any form of training on the risks of developing a vibration induced injury because of working with such tools.

As a result of the ongoing exposure to vibration he developed CTS, a condition which causes pins and needles, numbness, weakness of grip and pain in the hands and fingers.

After reporting his symptoms to his employers they took steps to limit his use of the tools but did so without checking the level of vibration given off by the various tools.

The Unite member had surgery for his condition to help repair the damage CTS had caused to his hands. Incommunities Group’s sick pay policy meant that he was forced to have surgery on both hands at the same time instead of treating them separately, which isn’t recommended by medical experts as it can cause an individual to be more restricted following surgery.

When he returned to work his employers failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment or monitor the tasks they expected of him since his injury. He still has ongoing symptoms and has been left with permanent nerve damage, which restricts what he can do in work and affects his everyday life.

He contacted Unite Legal Services who instructed industrial disease specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to pursue a claim of compensation on their member’s behalf.

He said: “My condition has stopped me enjoying many aspects of my life. I struggle to go fishing now as my hands become very painful in the cold, and I find it difficult to do anything manual like gardening. I feel so frustrated because my condition could have been avoided if my employers had taken steps to reduce my exposure to vibration. And even when they were made aware of my CTS, they failed to do anything that would actually help my condition until I took legal action against them.”

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary of Unite, said: “It is absolutely vital as far as vibrating tools are concerned that employers put in place systems to effectively monitor and control workers’ exposure, ensure that the exposure is as low as possible through job rotation, provide quality tools and give adequate training and information on the dangers of vibration.

“Our member’s employers did none of these things even after he had surgery for a condition caused by their woeful safety standards. Their complete lack of care has left a long term employee with a condition that affects him every day and will do for the rest of his life.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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