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A worker employed by a local council in South Wales, making double glazed windows and doors for its housing stock, has obtained £5,750 in compensation after injuring his hand in a workplace accident.
The man was operating a machine that cleans plastic used for welding. He had only been shown how to use it once and was then left to carry on with the job unsupervised. The machine jammed and then, when he proceeded to try to unblock it by hand, it started up again suddenly. Although he pressed the emergency stop button, his right hand was caught in its mechanism.
The accident caused soft tissue and nerve damage to the man's hand and also exacerbated his pre-existing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). HAVS, sometimes called 'vibration white finger', is a condition often brought on by the prolonged use of vibrating tools at work. It affects the joints, nerves and muscles in the hands, arms and wrists. It can be very painful, causing numbness, tingling sensations and a whitening of the skin.
As a result of his injuries, the man had to take nearly four months off work and still suffers from nerve damage in his right thumb.
It emerged that no risk assessment for the task of cleaning plastic from the doors and windows using the machine had been completed and the machine had caused problems in the past. It was known to have started working without warning, but the man's employer had failed to take any remedial action to prevent this.