An AWH Solicitor has assisted in a trial for a client suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The claim was contested on a breach of duty, causation and limitation but ultimately resulted in a successful pay-out for the claimant. Amrit Atwal was instructed by Usman Ibrahim from AWH Solicitors and represented the successful client.

What was the case?

The case involved our Claimant having suffered from bilateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to her working practices. These included 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.

The Defendant’s expert had formed the view that this condition was constitutional, given that her symptoms commenced 4 to 5 months after she had started work. This would be too soon after she began to be due to either vibration of repetitive work practices. The fact that she only used a vibratory tool in her right hand also didn’t account for the symptoms occurring in both hands.

The claimant’s expert had stated that they believed that the combination of the work she was undertaking had caused her to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. She was 39 years old when her symptoms commenced. He also stated that he believed that the symptoms in both hands was caused primarily by repetitive work and that the vibration exposure in the right-hand increased susceptibility. The Rheumatologist concluded that IIAC guidelines do not provide rigid rules and, as a consequence, do not strictly apply to mean that in every case there needs to be 12 months exposure to repetitive actions to cause CTS and rather it depends on the significance of exposure to repetition or vibration.

The Claimant underwent decompression surgery, first on her left wrist (in October 2016) and following that surgery, she had informed the Defendant’s representatives in HR. She later had decompression surgery on her right wrist in November 2017. When she returned to work, her working practices were unchanged. She was not referred to occupational health until after her second operation. It was agreed by the medical experts that she had no long-term symptoms of CTS and she was relatively symptom free.

The Claimant was employed by the Defendant from June 2015 to July 2021, and a specialist determined that it was noteworthy that no risk assessment was carried out when the claimant returned to work – she should have been offered breaks from the repetitive work.

As there was also an argument that the Claimant’s claim had been issued out of time, the case involved analysis of some of the medico-legal literature that underpins the view of both experts along with consideration of the prescription for CTS to be recognised as a disease by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC).

What was the outcome?

The judgement was in favour for the claimant on all issues due to both the vibration and the repetitive nature of her role. The judge also ruled that she was not statute barred and, accordingly, the claimant was awarded damages.

What was the employer’s breach of duty?

In terms of the employer’s breach of duty, it can be seen here that they did not consider their employee’s exposure to repetitive work in both hands, and also failed to carry out a sufficient risk assessment, especially given that the Claimant had reported symptoms.

Importantly, this case show that there is no strict requirement of 12 months exposure for 20 hours a week to repetition for CTS to be caused by work.

If you have been affected by a similar situation, then our experienced expert can help you. Get in touch today.

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