£8,500 Compensation for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

An Industrial Disease Case Study – Client Situation

Our Industrial Disease Lawyers were approached by a man in his 30s who had been diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

He had begun experiencing pins and needles in both hands and visited his GP, who referred him to hospital for further tests. He was told he may be suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome, but test results came back clear and he was discharged from treatment.

Upon returning to his job as a repair and maintenance worker at a water board, he informed his managers what had happened, but he wasn’t referred to occupational health.

Several years later, he experienced pain in his hands that led to him struggling to sleep at night. His GP referred him to the occupational health department at his employer and it was confirmed he was suffering from HAVS. At that point, he realised this was the result of his use of vibrating equipment at work.

Although he hasn’t had to take any time off work, he has been left with several ongoing symptoms, such as pins and needles and numbness. His hands can also feel painful in cold weather, and he finds many day-to-day tasks more difficult. For instance, he often drops items such as money and keys, cannot always button up shirts and finds it hard to play with and dress his young son.

He remains in employment, but his managers have taken steps to ensure he doesn’t use vibrating equipment or that any use is kept strictly to a minimum. However, his HAVS symptoms are permanent, which could affect his future job prospects.

How We Helped

He decided to claim compensation for HAVS and contacted Simpson Millar’s Industrial Disease Solicitors for help. Our Industrial Disease Lawyer felt he had a good chance of success and agreed to represent him.

We assessed his entire working history to find out when and where he may have been exposed to the hazards of working with vibrating equipment that led to his HAVS condition. The cause of his HAVS was pinpointed to a previous job at a water company, where he would carry out regular maintenance and repair work using equipment such as jack hammers and saws for prolonged periods every workday.

He later became a technician at another water board, where he continued using vibrating equipment, albeit far less intensely than in his previous job.

We believed there were a number of failings that led to him developing HAVS. For instance:

      • Our client wasn’t given warnings about the use of vibrating equipment, or given training on how to reduce exposure to vibration
      • He wasn’t informed about typical HAVS symptoms and encouraged to report them when they occurred
      • There was no rotation of jobs, so he would be using vibrating tools for at least four hours a day
      • He wasn’t provided with vibration-proof gloves or any other equipment to reduce exposure.

While pursuing the case, we argued that the employers should have foreseen that his job posed a foreseeable risk of HAVS injury and ensured that a safe and proper system of work was in place. However, at no time was he subjected to any health surveillance or medical examination to see if he was suffering from HAVS.

The employer should also have made sure that our client had taken regular breaks and that he understood the importance of doing so. Their failure to consider the health and safety risk of prolonged forceful gripping of vibrating tools represented a breach of their statutory duty.

We also arranged for our client to undergo an independent medical assessment, which confirmed that his HAVS symptoms are permanent. We approached the employers’ insurers to claim compensation for his HAVS related pain, injury and sustained financial losses.

The Outcome

We secured an £8,500 compensation settlement for our client.

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