An electrical engineer who suffered permanent damage to his hands caused by the vibrating tools he used at work has received substantial compensation.

Graeme Kelly, 56, from Jarrow developed painful Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) after working with vibrating tools for 34 years for employer De La Rue Currency based in Gateshead.

His employer failed to prevent him from being exposed to excessive levels of vibration leading to the conditions. By law employers must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks of harm from exposure to hand-arm vibration in order to protect their employees.

This should have included monitoring Mr Kelly’s use of vibrating tools to keep it within safe levels.

He was diagnosed with HAVS in 2009 after suffering from numbness in both hands. His employer’s occupational health department advised he should no longer work with vibrating tools and he was moved into a different role.

He started to suffer from loss of dexterity in his fingers and he was later diagnosed with CTS.

Mr Kelly recently had surgery on both hands to treat the CTS. Whilst this has helped to reduce the symptoms he will always suffer from loss of dexterity in his hands.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following his diagnosis of CTS he contacted his trade union, Unite the Union, which instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

De La Rue Currency admitted liability for his condition and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Kelly said: “I used vibrating tools most of my working life but never imagined it could do so much damage to my hands. I noticed over a gradual period of time that I was beginning to suffer from loss of dexterity in my fingers. When I was diagnosed with both HAVS and Carpal Tunnel I decided to contact my trade union for advice.”

Karen Reay, Regional Secretary for Unite in the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside added: “Any employer with staff using vibrating tools must have a policy in place to ensure they are monitored and are not exposed to excessive use. It has been known since 1975 that excessive exposure to vibration can cause industrial injury. De La Rue Currency is a large employer and should have understood it duty to protect its workers.”

David Mole from Thompsons Solicitors said: “The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations are clear about what employers need to do to prevent these sorts of conditions. This employer has no excuse for causing Mr Kelly, who had 34 years impeccable service, to develop not one, but two, conditions. The government constantly attacks health and safety regulations, but cases like this demonstrate how regulations, if they are properly observed, are there to protect employers from expensive legal action as much as they are to protect the health of employees.