A former road worker has been awarded a six-figure settlement after years of using power tools left his fingers so numb that he struggled to hold a cup of tea.
The labourer, who is in his 30s, spent around 15 years resurfacing roads and often used the vibrating tools – such as compacting plates and pneumatic drills - for up to several hours each day.
He said he was never warned about the dangers and had no idea he had been putting himself at risk until, after complaining of pins and needles in his fingers during an occupational health assessment, he was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome.
There is currently no cure for the disabling condition, triggered by the repeated use of vibrating hand-held machinery, which leaves sufferers with little or no sensation in their fingers and causes pain in the arms, wrists and hands.
Solicitors representing the Mansfield man, who claims his employment was terminated shortly after the diagnosis, said the £141,000 settlement was ‘unusual,’ but reflected the severity of his injury and the devastating impact on his life.
Christopher Briggs, from law firm Slater and Gordon, said: “It’s the little things we all take for granted that my client now finds difficult – fastening shirt buttons or tying his shoelaces, picking up small objects from the floor.
“He regularly drops cups and glasses because of the lack of sensation in his fingers.
“Not only is all this immensely frustrating and upsetting, but it has also affected his ability to work in the future as he can no longer do the same job.”
Also known as vibration white finger or ‘dead finger’ and most commonly associated with miners, Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome still affects around 3,000 people each year in the UK.
Mr Briggs said employers needed to do more to educate themselves and their staff.
He added: “It’s alarming that so many people are still coming forward with this type of injury.
“There are clear guidelines that employers should follow to protect their workforce – like carrying out regular health checks and proper risk assessments – but so often these aren’t communicated properly or done once then forgotten about.
“I think there’s a general lack of understanding and people need to be made more aware.”