HSE are very active on Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)

I have been approached recently by a few engineering companies as a result of HSE actions. In line with the HSE inspection regime, these are now more focused on Health Issues instead of the more traditional safety issues, such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), Noise, inhalation of hazardous fumes and dust.

In addition to these approaches, there is evidence of HSE interest and action on Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) from recent prosecutions.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) Prosecution

An engineering firm has been fined for failing to control the risk to employees using hand-held power tools from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Manchester and Salford Magistrates heard how Newfield Fabrications Co Ltd (NFCL) failed to ensure the risks to its employees from exposure was adequately controlled. The company also failed to ensure its employees were given sufficient information, instruction, and training on the health effects of working with vibrating hand tools.

An investigation by the HSE found that sometime towards the end of 2015, a welder who had been working at the company for a number of years had been given a job that involved a significant amount of grinding and polishing. After a number of hours on the task, the worker began to experience numbness and tingling. He asked to swap with another worker but was told to carry on. Whilst his symptoms continued he was told by his supervisor to carry on using vibrating tools. A few weeks later, a 20-year-old apprentice welder also began to suffer from vibration-related symptoms from using similar tools.

Newfield Fabrications Co Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 8(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £7,241 costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Helen Jones said:

This is a case of the company failing to protect workers using vibrating tools. Exposure to hand arm vibration is a well-known risk which the company failed to adequately control.

The company also failed to ensure workers were looked after when symptoms did arise leading to further exposure. This was wholly inadequate and led to two employees suffering significant health effects.

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