Unite the union member has received compensation after his hands were left permanently damaged by vibrating tools he used while working for Rolls Royce.

John Smith, 62, from Derby was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) following years of exposure to hand held air powered tools while working for the famous jet engine manufacturer.

Mr Smith contacted his union, Unite, after he was diagnosed with the condition in 2006. Unite instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Rolls Royce admitted liability and agreed to pay £6,250 in damages to Mr Smith.

Industrial Injury caused by vibrating tools

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.

There are precautions that employers can take to reduce the risk.

Mr Smith worked as a fitter balancer for Rolls Royce since 1989 and was exposed to vibration on a daily basis.

He started noticing his fingers turning white during the winter in 2004 but did not realise the significance. He was diagnosed with HAVS in 2006.

Mr Smith is now retired but said the condition has an adverse effect on his life. He said he feels pain and discomfort when gardening or fishing and he has to make sure his hands are kept warm at all times.

He said: “I firmly believe more should have been done by my employers to safeguard me from this condition. Now I am retired it affects everything I enjoy. When I walk the dog, do the gardening or go fishing I have to make sure my hands are ok. Often I have to stop an activity because my fingers will turn white and go numb.”

By law employers should protect their staff

Adrian Axtell Regional Secretary of Unite East Midlands said: “HAVS can be a debilitating condition which is caused by using vibrating tools. By law employers should protect their staff from this condition by ensuring staff are not exposed to high levels of vibration. Rolls Royce failed to do that for Mr Smith.”

Esther McConaghie from Thompsons Solicitors said: “We are pleased to have helped Mr Smith to claim compensation for his condition. His case shows how an employer’s failure to ensure simple yet essential safety measures are in place can have a long term impact for their employees.”

This news story has also been published by thisisderbyshire.co.uk