GMB member has received a substantial sum in an out of court settlement after his hands were left permanently damaged by using vibrating tools at work.

Alexander Simpson, 60, from Workington in Cumbria was left with debilitating condition Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger, after using vibrating tools in his job for an engineering company.

His employer West Cumberland Engineering admitted liability after Alexander’s union, the GMB, instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue compensation for his injury.

The condition means he suffers pain in his hands and cannot undertake simple tasks like gardening.

HAVS is an industrial injury

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 for each sufferer but common complaints are numbness in the fingertips, discolouration of the skin and general aches and pains in the hands, arms and fingers.

Alexander still works for West Cumberland Engineering but no longer works with vibrating tools. Until 2007 his work involved using a vibrating grinder five days a week.

He said: “My hands turn numb very quickly if they get cold and as a result I have to stop whatever task I am doing. It means it is hard for me to do the gardening or to continue my hobby of working with cars.

“When I was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration I decided to pursue compensation because I wanted to make sure I was moved on to a different job to prevent my condition from getting worse.”

It is the duty of the employer to ensure employees are protected against vibrating equipment

Senior organiser Billy Coates from the GMB said: “HAVS is a widespread hazard for many of our members working in a number of different industries and occupations where power tools are used.

“It can be a debilitating condition which can adversely affect our members both at work and at home.

“Under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 employers are required to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk to health and safety to their employees arising from exposure to vibration at work.

“We are pleased that in this case Mr Simpson has been compensated for his injury and that his employer has been held to account.”

Fiona Belgian at Thompsons Solicitors added: “We are pleased we have been able to settle this claim on behalf of Mr Simpson and the GMB. The continuing deterioration of his hands has impacted on his day-to-day life as well as his employment prospects. It is the duty of the employer to ensure employees are protected against vibrating equipment.”

This news story was also published by News & Star.