Hand Arm Vibratrion Syndrome (HAVS)
A GMB member has received £10,000 in an out of court settlement after his hands were left permanently damaged from using vibrating tools at work.
Frederick Roebuck, 61, from Sutton in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire was left with debilitating condition Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger, after using a vibrating tool for up to five hours a day in his job for a manufacturer.
His employer Charcon Tunnels admitted liability after Frederick’s union, the GMB, instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue compensation for his injury.
Pain and Numbness in Hands
The condition means Frederick suffers pain in his hands and cannot undertake simple tasks like trimming his garden hedge or buttoning up his grandchildren’s clothes.
He also can no longer take part in leisure activities like darts and pool due to the condition of his hands.
He was diagnosed with HAVS in 2007 after experiencing problems with his hands, including numbness, since 2005.
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.
Since 1976 a duty of care has been placed on employers to protect their employees from this danger.
Vibrating Tools caused Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Frederick still works for Charcon Tunnels based in Ashfield. The firm makes cement segments used in underground tunnels.
He no longer works with vibrating tools but until 2007 his work involved using a vibrating poker for up to five hours a day, five days a week.
He said: “I put the problems with my hands down to poor circulation and age. I had never thought I could get Vibration White Finger Syndrome. I believed it only affected miners.
“But in 2006 my fingers started going white and when I was pokering they would cramp up and go numb. I would have to stop what I was doing and shake my hands to get the circulation back into them.
“When I was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration I decided to pursue compensation because I believed my employer should have made sure I was adequately protected against this kind of injury.”
Many different Industries use Power Tools
GMB regional secretary, Andy Worth said: “HAVS is a widespread hazard for many of our members working in a number of different industries and occupations where power tools are in 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 Roebuck has been compensated for his injury and that his employer has been held to account.”
Client representative at Thompsons Solicitors Carol Wild added: “We are pleased we have been able to settle this claim on behalf of Mr Roebuck 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.”
Diagnosed with an industrial disease? Receive legal advice and more with Thompsons.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a work-related disease or illness in the last three years, our industrial disease compensation specialists are on hand to support you.
Whether your working conditions are the cause of the illness, or are a contributing factor, our industrial disease experts can help you to build a case for compensation that takes into account your present and future needs.
In addition to getting the best possible legal advice, we’ll also make sure you are put in contact with medical and rehabilitation experts who can aid your recovery.
If you’d like more detailed information about how to start a claim, visit our How to Make a Compensation Claim page.