A LANDMARK payout to a council gardener who suffers from the nerve disorder carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) after using vibrating tools such as leaf blowers could “pave the way” for thousands of workers to make similar compensation claims in Scotland.

The horticultural worker, who is employed in a council parks department has received a £15,000 out-of-court settlement for his injuries and now his victory could open the floodgates for many more cases.

The employee did not want to be named for fear of repercussions as he is still employed by the council, but his lawyer Bruce Shields, of Thompsons Solicitors in Glasgow, spoke out about the payout to encourage other workers to come forward.

He said: “The payout is for carpal tunnel syndrome only, it is a landmark settlement decision in as much as we have had insurers and local authorities vigorously defending claims from workers who have been using hand-held vibrating tools and who claim their CTS has been caused by that work.

“I was acting for this man, he is a gardener who used innocuous sounding tools which perhaps people wouldn’t associate with such conditions, like leaf blowers. We have had experts test these things and even this tool gives off a surprisingly significant amount of vibration, enough to give rise to the risk of injury.

“He was just a typical horticultural gardener who used lawnmowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, leaf blowers. He worked in the council parks department so occasionally he would use still saws to cut up concrete paving or a concrete breaker just to get foundations in for setting down benches in parks. He had been working for the council for 15-odd years.”

Shields said the condition wasn’t fatal, but causes the sufferer a great deal of pain and is debilitating.

He added: “These workers have been doing a job for a number of years and then once they have developed these symptoms, once these injuries have reached the stage where they are being diagnosed, they have a significant impact on their continuing ability to carry on with their job.”

Shields said he wasn’t aware of any similar cases being won in Scotland against a local authority relating to CTS-only claims and pointed out that it could open the door to similar settlements.

He added: “Every local authority has its own parks department and they all employ gardeners. What is important about this recent settlement is that we were able to satisfy the council that they were at risk that we were going to go on to receive a judgement that would award compensation to a CTS-only man.

“There are many workers who are still using vibration tools. This opens the door or paves the way for other gardeners and other workers across Scotland who have got carpal tunnel syndrome to come forward and investigate whether or not they have a claim against their employer and also they may be eligible to claim industrial injuries benefit.”

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a relatively common condition that causes a tingling sensation, thumb weakness, numbness and pain in the hand and fingers.

Usually, these sensations develop gradually and start off being worse during the night. They tend to affect the thumb, index finger and middle finger and some patients require surgery if there is a risk of permanent nerve damage.

Non-surgical treatments, such as wrist splints and corticosteroid injections, are used to treat mild or moderate symptoms.

The syndrome is caused by compression of one of the nerves that controls sensation and movement in the hands – the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage in the wrist made up of small bones and a tough band of tissue that acts as a pulley for the tendons that bend the fingers.

CTS is more common in men, about three in 100 men and five in 100 women suffer from this condition.

Last month, new research revealed that CTS appears to increase the risk of migraine headaches.

The US study is the first to find a link between CTS and migraine.

The researchers analysed data from nearly 26,000 Americans who took part in a health survey.

About 16 per cent said they’d suffered a migraine within the past three months, and nearly four per cent had CTS within the past year.

Some 34 per cent of people with CTS had migraines, compared with 16 per cent of those without the nerve disorder.

The researchers concluded that the risk of migraine was 2.6 times higher in people with CTS.