A WEARSIDE factory worker who needed surgery after being forced to work for more than a year with her elbow positioned at an awkward angle has received a £60,000 compensation pay-out.
Angela McGuckin said she suffers constant pain in her right elbow despite having had an operation to treat the repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by her work as a production operative for Tacle Seating in Houghton.
For her job, Mrs McGuckin, 50, from Washington, used an airgun to staple fabric to foam used at the car seat plant.
From mid-2007, she was required to work at a high table which meant 5ft 2in tall Mrs McGuckin had to constantly raise her elbow above her head. Within a week, she was taking painkillers for her elbow and shoulder.
She and other staff members complained about the table and a company doctor wrote to management asking for it to be lowered.
But, she said, nothing was done for more than a year.
Mrs McGuckin was given a stool so she could reach the table without raising her elbow.
But the stool was in fact deemed a tripping hazard and was soon removed.
The table was not lowered until August 2008.
By October 2008, her condition had become so bad that she needed surgery and had to take three months off work.
She has since left the company but is still in pain and needs help with household tasks.
Trade union Unite instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation on her behalf.
Tacle Seating has now settled out of court.
Mrs McGuckin said: “I complained to my team manager on the day the table was introduced.
“Within the week I began to experience pain and it just got worse and worse.
“The more I complained, the less seriously they seemed to take me.
“It wasn’t until I told them I had an operation scheduled that they eventually seemed to recognise the problem and the table was lowered.
“By then it was too late and the damage was done.”
Unite regional secretary Karen Reay slammed Tacle Seating bosses for their “deplorable” behaviour.
He said: “The Health and Safety Executive makes it clear any type of repetitive working involving the elbow must not require it to be lifted above shoulder height.
“This employer not only failed to ensure they did not breach this basic health and safety rule but once it was made aware of the issue it then failed to do anything about it for more than a year.
“Tacle Seating is a large organisation and their actions in this case are deplorable.”
Tacle Seating UK opened in Houghton in 2006 after securing contracts to supply Nissan’s Sunderland plant with seats for the then new Qashqai.