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£6,000 fine for ignoring vibration risks

21 February 2017

Power tools can lead to HAVS and firms have a duty to protect employees from exposure to excessive levels of vibration.

A company based in Oxfordshire has been fined £6,000 with £2,263.45 costs after a worker contracted severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

HAVS comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significantly painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee working at Phi Group, the earth retaining division of Keller Ltd, was diagnosed as suffering from HAVS after repeatedly flagging up his symptoms to the company over a period of five years.

Symptoms of HAVS can include tingling, numbness and pain in the hands. This affects sleep when it occurs at night and sufferers have difficulty gripping and holding, particularly small items such as screws, and tasks such as doing up buttons, writing and driving.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not have a suitable health surveillance programme in place to monitor for the early onset of HAVS and prevent the irreversible condition from developing.

Keller Ltd of Oxford Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Mehtaab Hamid said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance.

“If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured they had the right systems in place to monitor workers' health and this employee’s condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life altering stage.”

Click here for more information about HAVS on the HSE website.

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