National Grid ignored vibration risk to employees, says the GMB20 September 2013
Excessive exposure to vibrating work tools
The GMB has secured compensation for a member who developed a life-long condition after excessive exposure to vibrating work tools while employed by the National Grid.
The man from Lincoln has been employed as a craftsman by National Grid for 32 years during which his work regularly involved using tools such as jack hammers, whackers, rock drills and vibration rollers.
Excessive exposure to these tools has seen him develop Vibration White Finger (VWF) – an incurable condition which leaves those who have it with uncomfortable or often painful numbness, tingling and lack of strength in their hands.
His condition was diagnosed during an occupational health check at work. A member of the GMB for nearly 29 years, he contacted his union representatives who instructed personal injuryspecialists Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.
“Unfortunately this condition will never go away and I have to live with that. A simple drop in the temperature can leave me in a great deal of pain,” said the GMB member.
“At some points in my career I would be spending up to four or five hours a day using vibration tools and I just wasn’t warned of the dangers they posed to my health.
“That level of exposure would be unthinkable now.”
Andy Worth, from GMB Midlands & East Coast, said: “Our member’s excessive exposure to vibrating tools at National Grid is shocking. Unfortunately, he is not the first of their employees to be exposed to such a risk. It begs the question whether National Grid – a huge employer – did enough to mitigate the potential health risks to their employees?”
Limiting the amount of vibration exposure is basic health and safety best practice
Monique Medd from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Essentially my client was never made fully aware of the implications of excessive vibration tool exposure.
“Limiting the amount of vibration exposure is basic health and safety best practice. Employers should have strict patterns of rotating shifts to ensure workers are not at risk of developing conditions such as Vibration White Finger.
“His usage of vibrating tools is now monitored to ensure his condition is not made worse but that is too late for our client who will pay the physical price for the rest of his life due to his employer’s failure to address a basic health and safety issue.”
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