A company has been fined £211,290.04, including a victim surcharge of £70, and ordered to pay costs of £11,120.04 for not protecting employees against the risk of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
It should be a reminder to all companies that power tools pose a threat of leaving users with debilitating vibration injuries to their hands.
The company that was fined when it appeared before Reading Magistrates Court just before Christmas was replacing windows in busses. As many as 30 employees were diagnosed with HAVS after they had spent prolonged periods, sometimes entire shifts, using Fein cutters to remove the thick adhesive used to secure the windows.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that on and before 20 August 2018 the company, called PSV Glass & Glazing Ltd, failed to assess the risk to employees from exposure to vibration adequately.
The company did not monitor the use of the Fein cutters and had not implemented measures to control exposure to vibration. There was also no tool maintenance programme to ensure tools were working effectively to ensure vibration levels were kept to a minimum.
The 30 technicians diagnosed with HAVS were relatively young and sustained permanent injury to their hands that means they can no longer work with vibrating tools. Most now suffer constant pain and sensitivity to cold and struggle with everyday tasks, says HSE.
PSV Glass & Glazing Ltd of Hillbottom Road, High Wycombe, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5(1), 6(1), 7(1) and 8(1) of The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Page 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 they had the right systems in place to monitor workers’ health and the employees’ condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life altering stage.”