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FIRM FAILING ON HAVS SURVEILLANCE FINED £50,000

Door manufacturer failed to manage sanding and buffing tool vibration

A leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial doors and architectural products has been fined after a workman developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates heard how the employee was exposed to vibration from the use of handheld pneumatic buffing and sanding tools over a period of 15 years causing him to develop HAVS.

HSE investigators found the company failed to implement a safe system of work in order to control the risk of exposure to vibration. In addition the company failed to:

  • Assess the risk – carry out a suitable risk assessment of work activities from the use of the power tools resulting in poor control measures; and
  • Inform and Train – provide adequate information, instruction and training for employees or supervisors which resulted in inadequate control measures when working and a lack of adequate supervision.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a serious condition caused by regular and frequent exposure to hand arm vibration. Regular and frequent exposure can lead to permanent health effects. HAVS can result in tingling, numbness, pain and loss of strength in the hands causing distress and sleep disturbance, affecting the ability to do work safely.

Understand why health surveillance is necessary

The court also heard that employees were exposed to vibration levels that had not been reduced to as low as was reasonably practicable thereby increasing their risk of developing HAVS.

Finally, it was found that company did not have a suitable health surveillance system in place to identify HAVS symptoms at an early stage.

  • Design and Supply Limited – of Pant Industrial Estate, Merthyr Tydfil, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and has been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,881.70.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lee Jones said,

“This was a case of the company completely failing to understand the importance of assessing the risk to their employees from exposure to vibration and therefore putting in place the correct control measures.

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

 

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