A council worker whose hands have been permanently damaged by vibrating tools has received £10,000 in compensation.
Gary Knight, 55, from Birkenhead developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) during his 33-year career as a gardener for Wirral Borough Council.
The UNISON member used vibrating tools, including lawn mowers and strimmers, on a daily basis for much of that time but was never warned about the dangers the tools posed to his hands.
The excessive vibration led to tingling and numbness in the fingers and problems with dexterity. He suffered symptoms for a number of years but was only diagnosed in 2012.
Shockingly the council only took steps to restrict employee exposure to vibration following his diagnosis.
He contacted his trade union, UNISON, which provides comprehensive legal advice to members.
The council admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.
Mr Knight said: “For years I worked with heavy industrial lawn mowers and strimmers but was never warned that they might affect my hands in later years. It wasn’t until after I was diagnosed that we were provided with forms to fill in to monitor our exposure.
“The condition can be frustrating. I find simple things like picking up coins difficult and I fear that it is only going to get worse.”
Kevan Nelson, Head of UNISON in the North West, said: “We have known since 1975 that excessive exposure to vibration can cause industrial injury so Wirral Borough Council has no excuses for putting our member at risk in this way. Every employer who has workers using these tools must have a policy in place to make sure their use is safe and properly monitored.”
Andrew Davies from Thompsons Solicitors, who took the case for UNISON added: “The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations are clear about what employers must do to prevent this type of condition. The council should have taken action long before this employee was allowed to develop a long term problem with his hands.”