An Oxfordshire based, ground engineering company has been fined after a worker contracted severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee, who was working at the company’s earth retaining division, known as Phi Group, was eventually diagnosed as suffering from HAVS after repeatedly flagging his symptoms to the company for over 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 difficulties in gripping and holding things, particularly small items such as screws, doing up buttons, writing and driving.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not have the right system in place to manage the workers’ health as it did not have a suitable health surveillance programme in place to monitor for the early onset of HAVS and to prevent the irreversible condition from developing.
Keller Limited of Oxford Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry, pled guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,263.45.
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 that it had the right systems in place to monitor worker’s health and the employee’s condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life altering stage”.
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ 
- HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk