A retired power station worker has received £15,000 in an out of court settlement after his hands were left permanently damaged by using vibrating tools at work.

David Hopps, 65, from Doncaster was left with the debilitating condition Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger, after using vibrating tools in his job at Drax Power Station, Selby, Yorkshire.

The condition means he suffers pain in his hands and it makes outdoor activities in the winter difficult.

Symptoms of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), or Vibration White Finger

HAVS is an industrial injury which affects many people who operate hand-held vibrating power tools over a number of years.

Its symptoms can differ greatly but common complaints are numbness in the fingertips, discolouration of the skin and general aches and pains in the hands, arms and fingers.

David, who worked as a maintenance craftsman and then as a planner during his 12 years at Drax, said: “I noticed problems with my hands years ago but I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t until I mentioned it to a colleague that he suggested it might be HAVS. I went to my doctor who said it was likely I had the condition. This was confirmed by tests.

“I worked with vibrating tools on a daily basis while with Drax. The condition means I have to be careful with my hands particularly through the winter. If it is a cold day I cannot do the gardening and have to protect my hands or they get very sore.”

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following his diagnosis David contacted his union Unite which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Drax didn’t admit liability but settled the claim out of court.

Davey Hall, regional secretary of Unite said: “HAVS affects many of our members working with vibrating tools. Like David most have no idea that the condition is permanent and caused by their work. Despite there being regulations in 2005 requiring them to do so, too many employers fail to make a proper assessment of the risk to their employees from exposure to vibration.

Simon Wood at Thompsons Solicitors added: “HAVS can prevent sufferers from being able to work effectively, particularly in cold conditions. It can take many workers years to realise that problems with their hands are related to their workplace.

“Drax should have assessed the levels of vibration that workers were exposed to by hand-held tools and the amount of time the tools could safely be used. A simple medical would have identified if employees were beginning to develop HAVS.”