Industrial Illness Experts Urge Companies To Follow Guidelines To Protect Workers
By Helen MacGregor
A man blighted by daily attacks of numbness and tingling in his fingers because his former employers failed to follow safety guidelines when he worked with vibrating hand tools has spoken out to raise awareness of the debilitating condition.
Former Gas Main Layer, David Lichtenstein, from Gloucester, suffers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) after operating a variety of hand-held vibrating tools when he worked for Morrison Utility Services, replacing gas utilities at various locations.
The 48-year-old instructed workplace injury specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell and has spoken out to raise awareness of the condition after the firm secured him a five-figure settlement from his former employers for his pain, suffering and because he can no longer carry out the same level of manual work.
David regularly used Jack Hammers, Road Saws and Stihl Saws to access underground gas pipes, then trench rammers to compact the new surfaces.
He developed painful symptoms affecting both hands, including the loss of sensitivity in his fingers and his ability to perform intricate tasks such as using hand tools for home DIY. His condition means it is awkward for him to handle small objects like coins, shirt buttons and laces.
He was diagnosed with HAVS in April 2010 and is now blighted with daily attacks of numbness and tingling in his fingers which are made worse when spending time outside in cold or wet conditions.
Mark Lennon is an industrial illness expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office representing David.
Recent figures released by the Construction Skills Network analysed by vibration management specialist Reactec found that almost 659,000 British construction workers could be at risk of developing HAVS and identified plant operatives and mechanics as being most at risk of being diagnosed with HAVS.
David, who continues to work in the same industry but can no longer use vibrating tools, said: “I had always enjoyed my work but was never warned of the dangers or given any guidelines to follow to prevent me from contracting HAVS.
“When I was diagnosed with the condition, it was hard not to be angry because ultimately, my employers should have protected me.
“The pain, particularly on cold days, can be unbearable and unfortunately there is nothing I can do or any medication available to help manage it.
“I am relieved the legal battle has now come to an end, but I hope that by sharing what’s happened to me, it raises awareness of the condition and encourages other workers to speak out if they feel they are not being provided with the information and protection to prevent them from contracting HAVS.”
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to manual handling claims