A welder has received £58,000 in compensation after prolonged use of vibrating tools left his hands permanently damaged.

The Unite member from Wolverhampton was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) after he found he was unable to use his hands properly.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition which leads to numbness and muscle weakness. It can be caused by using vibrating tools and although the symptoms are permanent they can be reduced by surgery.

Diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

The 56-year-old was first diagnosed with HAVS symptoms in 2004 during a routine examination by the nurse while working for Caparo Modular Systems Ltd.

The firm, based in Willenhall, makes bonnets, tailgates and doors for cars.

Although he was showing signs that he had the condition, he wasn’t removed from the job and continued in the same role for another 18 months. Over that time his condition worsened so much that he was unable to do his job and was eventually moved into a different department where he no longer used vibrating tools.

He was later made redundant as part of cutbacks in his new department. Unfortunately he has been unable to find alternative work.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the diagnosis he contacted his union Unite which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. Caparo Modular Systems admitted breach of duty and settled the claim out of court.

He said: “I first noticed problems with my hands in 2004, but I was allowed to continue working in the same department doing the same job despite my problems. Over the next 18 months my condition got worse, but I wasn’t moved until it became really serious.

“I’ve now had surgery on my hands, which has helped, but the condition restricts what I can do especially during the winter. When the weather is cold my hands go numb. It's been difficult finding a job because I can no longer work in the job I have always done and been trained to do.”

Eric McDonald from Unite said: “HAVS and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can have a devastating impact on workers trained to use vibrating tools. As this member has discovered, finding employment when you are suffering from this condition can be extremely difficult.”

David Fisher from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Courts consider that since 1975 employers should have known the risk workers face when using vibrating tools on a regular basis. They expect precautions to be taken. Our client paid with his livelihood because the employer failed to keep a closer eye on his condition.”