A man from South Tyneside has been awarded compensation from his employer after they failed to provide adequate safety against vibrating power tools.
Graeme Kelly, an electrical engineer, regularly used vibrating tools as part of his job over the past 34 years.
Mr Kelly, 57, now suffers from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), both of which cause him constant pain. The damage is permanent.
His employers, De La Rue Currency, were found liable for his conditions as they failed to provide satisfactory protection.
Mr Kelly said: “I started to develop problems about three or four years ago.
“It is a painful, tingling sensation, and I believe I got the conditions because of using hammer and pistol drills in my job as a maintenance electrician, particularly in my earlier days with the company, when the equipment didn’t absorb vibration, as it did later.
“The company eventually admitted liability, and agreed an out-of-court settlement.”
Although Mr Kelly declined to reveal the exact compensation amount he received, he described it as “substantial”.
After he started suffering with numbness in both hands, he was diagnosed in 2009 as suffering from HAVS. He later discovered that he also had CTS after a loss of dexterity in his fingers.
He recently had surgery on both hands to relieve the symptoms of CTS, but he will likely have a permanent problem with his fingers.
After contacting his trade union, Unite, he was put in touch with injury lawyers who dealt with his case.
The union’s regional secretary, Karen Reay, said: “De La Rue Currency is a large employer, and should have understood its duty to protect its workers.”
The compensation claim was settled before it reached court as De La Rue Currency admitted liability for Mr Kelly’s injuries.
Mr Kelly said: “I used vibrating tools most of my working life but never imagined it could do so much damage to my hands. I noticed over a gradual period of time that I was beginning to suffer from loss of dexterity in my fingers.
“When I was diagnosed with both HAVS and Carpal Tunnel, I decided to contact my trade union for advice.”
Ms Reay added: “Any employer with staff using vibrating tools must have a policy in place to ensure they are monitored and are not exposed to excessive use.
“It has been known since 1975 that excessive exposure to vibration can cause industrial injury. De La Rue Currency is a large employer and should have understood its duty to protect its workers.”