Rail worker compensated for vibration injury

Posted: 19th April 2013

A Network Rail worker who was left with permanent damage to his hands after working with vibrating tools for many years has won an undisclosed amount in compensation.

Kevin Thornton, 48, worked for Network Rail and its predecessors for more than 22 years as an engineer and bricklayer. He frequently used vibrating tools such as rock drills for many hours at a time. Although it has been known since the 1970s that excessive exposure to vibration poses a health risk to workers, Mr Thornton’s employers failed to monitor the amount of time he spent working with vibrating machinery to ensure that usage remained within safe limits.

In 2009, Mr Thornrailwayton began to experience symptoms of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome, an industrial disease which is characterised by loss of grip, numbness and a whitening of the skin on the fingers. He commenced a personal injury claim against Network Rail, which admitted liability and agreed, in an out-of-court settlement, to pay him an undisclosed sum in damages.

After Mr Thornton brought his claim, his role was changed so that he no longer works with vibrating tools. Although his condition has improved, he will suffer symptoms for the rest of his life and these could get worse over time.

Employers have a duty to protect their employees from the harmful effects caused by continued use of hand-held power tools. The preventive action that needs to be taken depends on the level of the risk involved. For high-risk situations, employers are required to use an action plan to check and control levels of exposure. This might include effective training, ensuring the regular maintenance of equipment and the continuous monitoring of employees’ health levels.

If you have been injured at work because of your employer’s failure to protect your health and safety, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us for advice. For further information on our services click here.