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25th January 2008

Port Talbot factory worker medically retired after suffering repetitive strain injury secures almost £17,000 compensation

A factory worker from Port Talbot who was medically retired after suffering repetitive strain injury has secured almost £17,000 compensation with the support of leading trade union Unite and personal injury specialists Thompsons.

Mrs Barbara Newall, aged 48, worked as an accessory operator for Orion Electric UK Ltd, of Port Talbot. Her job was to bag accessories which accompanied a DVD player; this included a remote control, a battery pack, an RF cable and, in some cases, an additional RF lead. She would pack approximately 4,500 bags with accessories per day. She did so without adequate job rotation, breaks or warnings and as a result she suffered repetitive strain injuries and had to be medically retired.

Mrs Newall explains: “When I worked at Orion there was no rotation of work and no rests from the continuous process other than the official breaks. All our time was spent at our work stations doing the same repetitive job. The condition of my right hand and wrist eventually became so bad that I couldn’t continue working. Sadly the symptoms I’ve developed as a result have made it very difficult for me to cope around the home, for example ironing and dressing and undressing. I’ve had to have various treatments, including an injection into my right wrist, physiotherapy, a decompression operation on my wrist, and I’m now awaiting a further decompression operation on my forearm.”

Andy Richards, Wales Unite regional secretary said: “We’re very pleased with the outcome of Barbara Newell’s case. Her employer ignored her complaints of ill health and continued to set very tough targets for the production line without adequate breaks. She has now been medically retired at just 48 and faces an uncertain future.”

Representing Mrs Newall, Petra Williams from Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff comments: “As a result of her job at Orion, Mrs Newall suffered restriction in her work and domestic life and had to have surgery to address this. Her compensation is fully justifed and we hope that this settlement sends a message to other employers.”