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$1.5m Payout After Injury to One Finger

$1.5m Payout After Injury to One FingerThe Supreme Court of Queensland ordered a Rockhampton-based employer to pay almost $1.5million in damages to a 50yr old mining operator. The injured worker alleged that finger vibration had led to vibration-induced “white finger” syndrome or Raynaud’s Phenomenon – a condition that leads to swollen and painful fingers.

The employer tendered evidence that pointed to heavy smoking and previous employment in the fishing and boiler making industry as the likely cause. The court sided with the injured worker and awarded him $1,483,318.57, primarily of past and future economic loss.

Drivers, plant operators or other persons exposed to excessive vibrations may experience:

  • cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, endocrine and metabolic changes
  • digestive problems
  • reproductive organ damage in both men and women, and
  • impairment of vision, balance or both

This case highlights the need for employers to identify and manage the risks associated with vibration effecting the hand, finger or other extremities. As with all risks, management should be done via the hierarchy of control.

  • Elimination – Eliminate the vibration of eliminate the need for the operator experience vibration.
  • Substitution – Use of a remote control or safer alternative to the work.
  • Isolation – Locate workers as far away from vibrating equipment as possible.
  • Engineering – Vibration dampening adjustments to equipment.
  • Administration – Job rotation, limiting use of vibrating tools, training, taking regular breaks.

See Safe Work Australia’s “GUIDE TO MANAGING RISKS OF EXPOSURE TO HAND-ARM VIBRATION IN WORKPLACES” for more info.

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