A man who developed a painful hand condition after working with vibrating tools for nearly a decade has secured compensation with the support of the RMT and Thompsons Solicitors.

Lee Hewitson, 48, used vibrating machinery to maintain and install railway tracks across Doncaster. In addition to using a Kango drill daily, he would also less frequently operate rail saws, disc cutters and rail drills. Lee would work seven-hour shifts, of which more than four hours would be spent using vibrating tools.

In November 2012, nearly nine years after he first started operating the vibrating tools, Lee began experiencing pain and cramp in his hands. This was later diagnosed as hand arm vibration syndrome.

"Thanks to his membership of the RMT, not only was Lee able to access industrial disease specialists but he also got 100 per cent of his compensation both things he wouldn’t have got from a high street law firm or a claims company off the TV."

Stacey Cox, of Thompsons Solicitors

He was initially told by his employer that he could continue using the vibrating tools at his discretion, moving to another job if and when pain began to develop. However, an external occupational health assessment later said that he could not work with any handheld tools, whether vibrating or otherwise, because his hand syndrome made it unsafe. Subsequently, he had to take a role as a track controller.

A year after his diagnosis, Lee needed surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerves in his hands. He continues to suffer pain, particularly in cold weather, and the syndrome limits his grip.

He turned to the RMT and industrial disease specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to make a compensation claim.

“To be told that I won’t ever recover from a condition caused by my job is incredibly frustrating,” said Lee. “I would spend hours each day using vibrating machinery, but it was only after my diagnosis that systems came into place restricting how much time people spend on them. I’m limited in what I can do job-wise. I can’t even use basic tools like hammers and spanners because of the pain in my hands and lack of grip.

“I’m glad that my employer has changed its procedures for vibrating tools, but it’s come too late for me.”

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “Lee’s working conditions have left him in frequent pain and at a disadvantage when applying for future jobs. This could have been avoided had his employer used common sense and acknowledged the well-known dangers surrounding excessive use of vibrating tools.

“The RMT represents thousands of members across the UK in work-related compensation claims, and we were proud to fight on Lee’s behalf to hold his employer to account for failing to protect him.”

Stacey Cox, of Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Hand arm vibration syndrome will continue to affect Lee for the rest of his life, but his compensation settlement will mean he can put money aside for treatment that can ease the pain he suffers.

“Thanks to his membership of the RMT, not only was Lee able to access industrial disease specialists but he also got 100 per cent of his compensation both things he wouldn’t have got from a high street law firm or a claims company off the TV.”