Butcher's claim for hand injury

Our client in this case worked as a butcher. The nature of this job led to him develop a strain injury in his left hand and wrist.

Our client has worked as a butcher for many different employers throughout his career, however the employer for whom he worked the longest and claimed against was Scotbeef Limited.

A large part of our client's work at Scotbeef involved him cutting meat cuts into smaller sizes. This required a tough grip as he had to hold the meat in one hand and cut it with the other. He would usually do this for his whole shift, chopping up hundreds of pieces of meat per day.

It's worth noting that our client did not consider the work in his prior jobs to have been as repetitive as the work carried out at Scotbeef. He was not given training on the correct way to cut beef, nor did his employer provide him with health checks. There was no evidence that the employer had carried out risk assessments to see what possible hazards the workers faced.

Eventually, our client noticed pain in his left hand.

The Consequences

The pain in his hand first became a problem when our client realised he was having difficulty tying laces and turning the pages of books. He first believed the pain to be a possible indicator of arthritis, but this would later be confirmed not to be the issue.

Our client tried to put up with the pain and continue with his work, but when a minor knock to his hand caused significantly more pain than he would have expected, he was referred to hospital. He later went to his GP who told him he had a repetitive strain injury that was almost certainly linked to his work. He was referred to physiotherapy and given painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

The Settlement

The butcher made a claim with the help of his union, Usdaw. Thompsons' work accident solicitors took on the case and proceeded to gather all the necessary information that would help strengthen the claim.

The repetitious nature of the butchery work was considered predominantly the cause of our client's injury. His employer could have rotated work so it wasn't as repetitive, but this didn't happen, and we obtained witness statements to support this. This meant there had been breaches, by the employer, of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations, and of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

We also obtained our client's full medical records, which showed he'd been diagnosed with De Quervain's tenosynovitis, which is an inflammation of the sheath surrounding tendons in the hand, and this may have been due to his job. We instructed a medical report of our own by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, which further confirmed the diagnosis and that the regular action of gripping and cutting meat was to blame.

However, when we forwarded this report to the employer's insurers, they refused to admit liability, arguing that the work was indeed rotated. But because they were unable to provide any evidence to support this, we remained convinced that the case had a high chance of success and raised court proceedings in the All Scotland Sheriff Personal Injury Court.

Shortly before the Proof date, and after we had continued to put pressure on the defender, they put forward a compensation settlement offer of £13,000. Considering our client's wage loss, and pain and suffering caused by his injury, our solicitors believed this was in the range of what the Court was likely to award. Our client advised he was happy with the offer, and the case was settled on 21 July 2017.

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