Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Compensation Awarded
A man has received £100,000 in compensation, after the Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome that he was suffering from was attributed to his employer’s breach of health and safety laws. The lack of care that was given to employees is thought to be so widespread that many more individuals may be suffering in silence. Here at AWH, we have been working with a number of clients who have suffered from the same condition and ensuring that they get the support and compensation that they need.
What is Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome?
Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVs) was formerly referred to as ‘vibration white finger.’ It is a condition that is caused by exposure of the hands and the arms to intense vibration when using handheld tools such as pneumatic drills, grinders, chipping hammers or similar. It is generally not caused by whole-body vibration or sound. In this case, Jamie Ross developed a serious case of the condition after years of using powerful glass cutting tools.
Employer’s Duty of Care
The court ruled that PSV Glass and Glazing had failed to ensure the safety of staff who used a particular piece of equipment, known as a Fein cutter. In any place of work, the employer should always uphold a duty of care to their employee. This includes:
- Making sure that their workers are protected from anything that may cause harm – they must also carry out risk assessments to assess what these things may be.
- Making sure that their workers are given information about the risks that exist in the workplace, and how the appropriate steps have been put into place to protect workers.
- Making sure that employees are consulted on health and safety issues. The consultation must either be direct or through a safety representative that has been elected by the workforce or appointed through a trade union.
Because of the company’s failure to fulfil these criteria, the court enforced a £200,000 fine along with Jamie Ross being paid £100,000 in compensation. Jamie said that: ‘When carrying out the cutting work, the Fein cutter had to be held in both hands and there was always pressure and expectation to use it due to time restrictions. It’s no surprise to me that a number of other fitters I worked with have also been diagnosed with HAVS.’ The firm is based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire but also has depots in the East Midlands and in Manchester, which was where Jamie was based.
At AWH, we have plenty of experience helping clients who have suffered from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome and similar conditions. Most recently, our specialists helped a woman who was suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Similarly to this case, this arose from her being exposed to repetition, the use of force, gripping and in addition the right hand also included the use of a hand held vibratory tool and vibration exposure.
What Was the Case?
Our Client was employed at the Welsh premises of a national company producing uPVC sash window double glazing frames. She would typically spend around 3 hours per day attaching handles, around 3 hours per day attaching hinges and around 3 hours attaching rods to uPVC sash window double glazing frames.
Our Client operated vibrating tools including air-powered wrenches, drills and screwdrivers using her right hand, while using her left hand to support and manoeuvre sash window frames. We scrutinised the company’s records in painstaking detail and discovered that the vibration levels were being significantly underestimated. This was later confirmed by an expert engineer.
Video evidence of the work being undertaken proved that Production Line Operatives were collecting and placing into position individual screws every 7 to 11.75 seconds with virtually no respite as the company was producing over 600 uPVC sash window double glazing frames per day. There was no alteration in the basic tasks that our Client was required to perform
Such was the intensity of our Client’s combined exposure to vibration, repetition, pressure, and gripping, rotating, twisting and bending movements, that she began to experience numbness and pins and needles, symptoms associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, within a matter of months.
Little to no training was given to our Client and there was no regular health surveillance. The only health surveillance undertaken by the company was after our Client brought her claim, by which point the damage had already been done.
If you have been affected by a similar situation, or you have worked at PSV Glass and Glazing, then our expert solicitors can help you to get the compensation that you are owed.
Read more on our Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome page.
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