A Nottinghamshire County Council worker has had his work compensation claim settled out of court after his employer admitted liability for him developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
Andrew Bowler from Selston near Nottingham suffered the hand injury after working with vibrating tools for close to 30 years, before being diagnosed with CTS in 2008. At this point, he contacted his union – the GMB – which helped him make his work compensation claim, after it had been confirmed that he will be disabled for life, despite undergoing surgery on his hands.
Andy Worth from the GMB remarks that "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a major workplace hazard. The risks have been well documented since the 1970s and yet this employer turned a blind eye to the health and safety precautions they should have been taking."
Andrew was awarded £60,000 before the work compensation claim reached court and remarked that as a result of the hand injury, he can no longer do the things that he loved, like DIY or tending to his garden. He still works for the council three days a week, but now works in a supervisory role that doesn't involve him using tools.
CTS occurs when nerves in the hand have pressure applied to them as they pass through a narrow gap called the carpel tunnel. Pressure can increase through a number of factors, including breaking your wrist in a certain way or indulging in activities that involve repetitive movement of the joint, which can involve sports or vibrating tools, as was the case with Andrew.
This can result in numbness and discomfort in the hand and possibly pain in the fingers, although mild cases of CTS can be treated by steroid injections or wearing splints to support the wrist until it heals. For more serious cases, surgery can be required and although it has a very high success rate, as we have seen in Andrew's case, it doesn't work 100 per cent of the time.
To avoid suffering a hand injury and needing to make a work compensation claim, employees can change some of their ways of working, including switching to an ergonomic keyboard, which can alter the sufferer's posture and minimise strain.
Companies hoping to avoid having claims made against them could use a new online resource, which allows firms to find health and safety consultants that can give good advice. The Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register has been set up by a number of professional bodies which represent the consultants, with support provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Reported by Fiona Campbell