A GMB member has received £35,000 in compensation after prolonged use of vibrating tools left his hands permanently damaged. 

The 49-year-old from Cumbria was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome after working at the Sellafield nuclear waste plant in Calder Bridge for 23 years. 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition which leads to numbness and muscle weakness. It can be caused by using vibrating tools and although the symptoms are permanent they can be reduced by surgery. 

He was first diagnosed with the syndrome in 2003 after complaining to his GP about pins and needles in his hands.

Used vibrating hand held tools every day at work

He had been using vibrating hand held tools in his job as a process worker in the decommissioning unit every day since 1992.

The condition became so bad he was left with restricted grip and had to undergo four operations on his hands. 

Once he was diagnosed with the condition he was moved to a different department where he remains on restricted duties. However, he still suffers from pain in his hands, especially in bad weather and during the night in bed.

He said: “My hands are my tools so I have been devastated by this condition. I can no longer use my hands effectively and as a result I will be on restricted duties for the rest of my employment with Sellafield.

“I had no idea that my job was affecting my hands in this way and I hadn’t been warned about the dangers. It was a complete shock to be told by my doctor that my symptoms might be caused by my work.”

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the diagnosis he contacted his union GMB which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. Sellafield did not admit liability but settled the claim out of court.

Thompsons argued that Sellafield should have been monitoring the client’s condition and made changes to his working conditions when he first started showing symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Stephen Gibbons from the GMB said: “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can have a devastating impact on workers. Our member has worked in a manual job since he left school but now has restricted grip and dexterity which means he has been forced to rethink what he can do.”

Hazel Webb from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Courts consider that since 1975 employers should have known the risk workers face when using vibrating tools on a regular basis. They expect precautions to be taken. Our client will suffer for the rest of his life because the employer failed to keep a closer eye on his condition.”