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November 21, 2016

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£250,000 fine for hand arm vibration syndrome

A council has been fined £250,000 after a worker was diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome.

The worker was left permanently injured after the work he did at Thanet District council would mean he typically spent up to six hours a day using a range of powered equipment.

Canterbury Crown Court heard that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the worker wasn’t under any health surveillance and wasn’t told how he should report his symptoms.

The council also hadn’t taken steps to eliminate or control the exposure of their workers to HAVs, and failed to educate workers on the risks and train them on how to control their exposure to the vibrations caused by the power tools.

During the investigation the council were issued with an improvement notice, and as they started to rectify the problem and implement appropriate health surveillance, a further 15 cases of ill-health relating to vibration exposure were identified and reported to HSE.

Symptoms of hand arm vibration can include tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the hands. It can affect sleep when it occurs at night and can also cause difficulty in gripping and holding things, particularly small items.

Thanet District Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(2) and 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and was fined a total of £250,000 and was ordered to pay £18,325.84 in costs.

HSE principal inspector Mike Walters, said: “Hand Arm Vibration is a serious disease that impacts on people’s lives and impairs their ability to work. It is entirely preventable but once the damage is done it is permanent. Any business, council or employers can learn from this case. If you have workers who use heavy machinery you need to ensure you properly manage the risks from HAVs, control or eliminate the exposure and train them so they can identify the symptoms.”

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