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Workers suffer long term damage from HAVS

Posted in: Employer Negligence Industrial Deafness and Disease Workplace Injuries 

An aerospace company has been prosecuted for failing to heed safety regulations for at least six years, leaving a group of employees with permanent nerve damage.

Portsmouth Magistrates were told that five workers based on the Isle of Wight had been left with long-term damage to their circulation and nerve systems after contracting hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

The workers developed advanced symptoms of the well-known condition after prolonged use of vibrating hand tools, used as part of their work building engine.

Their circulation problems mean their hands become white and dead in the cold, with extreme pain on warming. The nerve damage affects their ability to carry out finer tasks needing dexterity, meaning they lack grip and can often drop objects.

The Health and Safety Executive, which investigated and brought the prosecution, found that the company had failed to comply with the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations since they became law in January 2006.

The court heard that a GKN health surveillance programme identified the five employees as suffering advanced debilitating problems in 2009. However, the company continued as before and still failed to assess the risks and put controls in place to protect the significant number of remaining workers.

The company was fined a total of £26,800 and ordered to pay full costs of £8,256 after admitting four breaches of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 between July 2005 and December 2011. The company was fined £3,400 for each of the two earlier offences and £10,000 for each of the later offences.


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