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HEALTH SCREENING FIRM FINED FOR USING UNQUALIFIED STAFF

Hand Arm Vibration tests carried out by persons lacking necessary training

Audio Medical Services Ltd has been prosecuted after using unqualified health screening staff and carrying out inadequate tests for 59 companies over a period of at least four years.

The case concerns Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) caused by regular use of hand-held power tools or holding materials processed by machinery. The company failed to provide the employers with information to prevent workers’ health deteriorating and did not refer employees to occupational health professionals when required.

Staff employed by AMS to carry out the tests lacked occupational health training and had not received the relevant training to perform screening for HAVS.

Attacks of HAVS may cause pain, numbness and tingling as well as reduced manual dexterity and the effect may spread from the tips of the fingers up the digit, causing stiffness in the hand and arm. Sufferers may struggle with tasks requiring fine manipulation, including simple tasks like dressing, which can affect their family and social lives. In severe cases, blood circulation may be permanently impaired.

Proper health surveillance is vital

Audio Medical Services Ltd of Cornwall pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Nick Nickson, the Managing Director of AMS also pleaded guilty to the same offence.

AMS Ltd were fined £3,200 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 by Bodmin Magistrates Court. Nick Nickson was fined £700.

HSE Inspector, Georgina Speake, said:

“The failures of AMS were totally unacceptable. Companies using AMS thought they were doing the right thing by providing screening for their employees. AMS’s negligent behaviour meant a significant number of workers have been put at risk of worsening their conditions by continuing with their normal work practices when they should have stopped.

Around two million people are at risk of this painful and debilitating condition in the UK and although preventable, once the damage is done it is permanent, there simply is no treatment. Proper health surveillance is vital to detect and respond to early signs of damage.”

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