UNISON, the UK’s largest public sector trade union, has won £262,000 compensation for Adrian Bideau, a Norfolk roadworker, forced out of his job at 25, through injury. 

Mr Bideau developed hand, arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome as a result of using vibrating tools such as breaker packs, whacker plates and saws.

Condition caused by over-use of vibrating tools

UNISON Regional Secretary for the Eastern Region, Greg Grant, said:

“It is a real tragedy that Adrian has been forced out of a job he loved doing at such a young age. He has to live with the painful results of over-use of these tools. Employers have a duty of care to their staff but Norfolk city council encouraged staff to work more hazardously, because of the bonus scheme they operated.” 

Commenting on the accident, Adrian Bideau said:

"As well as HAVS, I was also diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in October 2003 and I have not been able to work since then. I have difficulty with working outside due to my condition, which is much worse in cold weather. 

“Despite having decompression surgery on both of my wrists, I have not been able to return to my former employment and I was retired on ill health grounds in April 2005.

New scheme introduced to monitor exposure to vibratory tools

Samantha Vallis from Thompson Solicitors who brought the case for UNISON, said: 

“As a large employer, Norfolk County Council would have been aware of the risks associated with the excessive vibration which they were exposing their employees to. They encouraged their workers to work long and excessive hours on the tools as they operated a bonus scheme. Therefore the more work they did, the more money they earned. They have now introduced a system whereby exposure to vibratory tools is monitored and controlled and the bonus scheme has been scrapped. Had this been the case when Mr Bideau was working on the tools, he would still be in a job he loved today.”