Aerospace company didn’t take necessary action to help employees at risk of developing syndrome…
An aeronautical company has been prosecuted after a group of employees developed a debilitating condition as a result of the company failing to observe safety protocols for a number of years.
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court was told that five employees based at the company’s plant on the Isle of Wight have now developed a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) which damages the circulation and nervous system of those affected. The employees are thought to have gradually developed the condition due to prolonged use of vibrating tools and equipment while working at the plant.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the company’s practices discovered that it had failed to comply with regulations relating to the use of vibrating tools as far back as January 2006 when the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations came into law. The five employees concerned were identified as being at risk of having health problems in 2009 after a surveillance screening but the company didn’t take any kind of action to prevent their conditions worsening.
The company was fined a total of £26,800 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £8,256 after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 between July 2005 and December 2011.
Anne Bartlett, HSE Specialist Inspector in Occupational Health, spoke after the hearing:
“Work-related health risks cannot be ignored or pushed down the agenda. The company had the resources to protect its employees from the well-known effects of exposure to hand-arm vibration but failed to do so over an extended period.
“As a result, five employees developed debilitating symptoms which affect all aspects of their lives, and are unlikely to ever improve. Although most of them were redeployed, the company still failed to assess the risks and implement suitable measures to protect the remaining staff until HSE stepped in at the end of 2011.
“Employers must take timely and effective measures to ensure that the health of their staff is not seriously and permanently affected as a result of the work they do.
Author: Julian Roberts
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