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    FAILURE TO ACT ON VIBRATION AND SILICA HAZARDS

    Worker health put at risk during stripping of furnace lining

    A furnace relining company has been sentenced for failing to control worker exposure to both vibration and respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

    Leeds Crown Court heard how the company reported two cases of employees suffering Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in early 2017.

    The subsequent HSE investigation found that no measures had been put in place to control exposure to vibration when using pneumatic tools.

    HEALTH SURVEILLANCE

    HSE also discovered there was no health surveillance in place to identify any early signs of effects on worker health. The failings identified dated from 2006.

    Previous HSE advice on RCS

    The investigation also revealed that between April 2004 and December 2017, no measures were implemented to control workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica while stripping and replacing furnace linings, and no health surveillance was put in place.

    This was despite previous advice from HSE indicating what was needed.

    • Calderys UK Ltd – of Morley, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 7(1) and 11(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. The company has been fined £60,000 with £4,864 costs.

    EFFECT OF RSC EXPOSURE

    After the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin commented:

    Exposure to vibration can cause HAVS, a loss of nerve function, strength and dexterity in the fingers which is permanent and untreatable while exposure to silica can cause silicosis, leading to impaired lung function, lung cancer and death. It can also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).

    Companies should know HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those failing to protect their workers.”

     

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