Worker developed problems after long hours using vibrating tools… A maintenance worker for Network Rail has won £68,000 in compensation after he developed carpel tunnel syndrome as a result of using heavy vibrating tolls while working 12-hour shifts on the railway tracks.
The man could no longer work for the rail company as a result of the condition which caused him to suffer numbness and muscle weakness in his hands. His initial symptoms were pins and needles but after some time his hands started to go numb. Despite having surgery in order to restore feeling to his hands he still has permanent nerve damage and is unable to undertake any kind of manual task that requires the use of his hands for more than a few minutes.
The railway worker used the vibrating tools between 2006 and 2008 and it is thought he developed the debilitating condition during this period as he often worked 12-hour shifts and amassed up to 80 hours of overtime a month. Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect anybody from a railway track worker using vibrating tools to the office worker who isn’t aware of expected ergonomics standards and needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible before the condition worsens.
Thompson Solicitors who represented the worker said that he requested to see Network Rail’s doctor when initial symptoms presented but he never received any formal appointment notice and instead he had to have his own GP sign off on the fact that he was unable to work.
The man was absent from work for 14 months as a result of the surgery on his hands and his condition has not improved sufficiently for him to return to work for as a railway maintenance worker so he has had to enroll himself on a college course to gain the skills and qualifications to find an alternative career where the loss of feelings in his hands is not such a handicap.
The man’s solicitors criticised Network Rail for failing to monitor their employees’ use of vibrating tools and not checking if the use of those tools was within recommended safety levels. The rail company also failed in their duty to warn their staff about the potential dangerous long-term effects of exposure to excessive vibration and further the company didn’t provide any protection against the risks of using the tools over a long period such as regular rest breaks or machine rotation.
Jane Toplis of Thompsons Solicitors said:
“Courts consider that employers should have known the risk workers face when using vibrating tools on a regular basis since 1975.”
Network Rail settled the matter out of court after agreeing to pay a compensation claim of £68,000.