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Sewing Machinist Secures Compensation For Repetitive Strain Injury

Satinder Bains from the Birmingham office successfully concluded a claim for a client diagnosed with repetitive strain injury (RSI) affecting both wrists and hands. The claim concluded for a four figure sum in compensation.

Mrs G aged 56 from Halesowen in the Black Country worked as a sewing machinist in a factory producing cushions for settees and armchairs based in West Bromwich.

The work involved cutting thick upholstered cloth-like material or leather to the correct size and shape using industrial scissors, attaching a lining to give the fabric additional strength and stitching the lining onto the reverse of each piece of material.

This would be followed by sewing the different pieces of fabric together and attaching a zip and thick pipe cording. The work would require pulling heavy pieces of fabric through the sewing machine using both hands.

Working piece time, Mrs G would prepare between 30 and 40 cushions a day. The work was extremely repetitive involving a classic pinch grip of the right thumb and forefingers which made her vulnerable to developing an injury in this area. She also had to hold a pair of small scissors in her hand whilst she worked and flex and twist her wrists continuously as the fabric had to be constantly turned as it was sewn.

Mrs G’s work was not rotated, nor was she allowed adequate breaks. She had little training for her job and no information about the possibility of the risk of developing any injury such as RSI.

Mrs G commented: "The pain I experience radiates from my mid-shoulder down to my wrists and hands. I also experience swelling in my fingers. Sometimes the pain is so bad it causes me to cry at night. I treat the pain using ice packs, steroid injections and physiotherapy."

Mrs G’s award was secured by Industrial Disease specialist Satinder Bains of the Workplace Illness team at the Birmingham office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell.

Commenting on the award Satinder Bains said “Repetitive Strain Injuries which are sometimes referred to as Upper Limb Disorders are a very common form of injury caused or made worse by work.

"Such injuries are particularly prevalent in sewing machinists who perform highly repetitive work. This case highlights the importance of health and safety policies.

"Employers have a duty of care to their staff, which includes ensuring that where the work is repetitive and/or involves forceful movements a full risk assessment is carried out, proper training provided, the work should be rotated and work periods involving a lot repetition should be broken up with short frequent breaks. With proper precautions Mrs G’s injury could have been avoided."

If you or a loved one has suffered from repetitive strain injuries, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathy and vibration white finger caused by conditions at work, our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.

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