Local Authority Admits Liability In Relation To Rhostyllen Man’s Workplace Injury
A council gardener in Wrexham whose decision to speak out after he developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) at work led to the local authority involved being fined for safety failings has taken a step forward in his own battle for justice regarding the condition.
Father-of-two Robert Ellis Jones, 58, from Rhostyllen, works for Wrexham Borough Council as a Gardener/Street Scene Operative having been employed by the Council in 1978.
His complaint to management regarding the condition led to the matter being referred to the Health and Safety Executive, with the body’s investigations leading the council to admit that it failed to ensure policies related to HAVS were being following between 2011 and 2016.
The local authority was subsequently fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs in October 2017.
Following the emergence of his HAVS, Robert instructed specialist workplace illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him gain justice regarding the failings which led to his condition. Now, after the local authority admitted liability in relation to his case, he has revealed his hopes that lessons will be learned from his experience.
Stephen Pearson, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Robert, said:
Expert Opinion“Employers have a fundamental responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of their workers is a top priority, but this is sadly yet another case in which there have been clear failings in this regard.
“Robert deserves huge credit for speaking out on the issue, with his action ensuring that the council involved was held to account for the unacceptable failings which led to his condition.
“Following this admission of liability, we are now hopeful of securing Robert the justice he deserves and bringing his case to a swift conclusion.” Stephen Pearson - Paralegal
Robert’s work for Wrexham Borough Council involved him regularly using strimmers, mowers and other equipment such as hedge cutters. The HSE case heard that while the council had written and regularly updated policies on the issue of HAVS, it did not ensure they were being enforced.
As a result of the condition, Robert has undergone numerous Occupational Health assessments, the first coming in June 2015 however Robert had been suffering from his symptoms many years prior to this.
An Occupation Health assessment carried out at the beginning of 2018 found Robert’s condition had deteriorated to such a level that he has now been taken off jobs that involve him using tools.
Robert said: “This condition has had a huge impact on my life and it is devastating to think that this has been caused by my work. I used to do the majority of jobs around the house such as painting and decorating, tiling, general DIY, gardening and car washing.
“However I can no longer do any of these jobs due to my condition and I find it extremely frustrating to come to terms with when I see my family doing these jobs and I am unable to help.
“My only hope by speaking out on the issue was that lessons would be learned so no one else suffers in this manner.
“Ultimately, while nothing will change what has happened to me, I just hope that my experiences will ensure that councils and other employers always recognise the importance of health and safety in the workplace.”
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