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A sheet metal worker who developed ‘vibration white finger’ has won £7,000 in compensation.
The unnamed 58-year-old man from Sheffield spent up to three hours a day grinding and hammering sheets of metal. After 26 years in the job, he developed vibration white finger, which is an industrial disease caused by repeated exposure to vibration. Typically, it causes tingling and numbness in the fingertips, as well as aches and pains in the hands and arms. The symptoms are worse in cold and damp weather and the damage caused by the condition is normally irreversible.
At no point did the man receive a warning from his employers about the risks to his health of the repeated use of vibrating tools. Because of the pain, he now has to eschew activities such as gardening, fishing and football coaching.
After he brought a personal injury claim against his employers, they admitted liability and agreed to pay the man £7,000 in compensation.
Employers have a duty to warn employees of the risks attached to the regular use of vibrating machinery and to ensure that the correct health and safety measures are in place to minimise the damage caused. The preventive action that employers need to take depends on the level of the risk involved, but should include the provision of the correct safety equipment and implementing a system for rotating shifts in order to prevent prolonged exposure. For high-risk situations, employers are required to use an action plan to check and control levels of exposure. This might include effective training, ensuring the regular maintenance of equipment and the continuous monitoring of health levels.
If you suffer from an injury brought on by poor workplace practices and would like to discuss your case, contact Jeremy Walker.