£80,000 HAVS fine

£80,000 fine after four employees suffer hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

The latest fine for exposing workers to the risk of the debilitating and painful condition of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) has earned the employer an £80,000 fine with £5,293.10 costs.

Liverpool housing association company Onward Homes Ltd has been given the fine after four employees developed the condition as the result of nerves being damaged by the repeated exposure to vibration over several years. The condition makes everyday tasks and leisure activities difficult or impossible.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the affected employees developed HAVS while carrying out ground maintenance and general construction work using vibrating power tools on a daily basis.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Onward Homes failed to prevent or reduce its employees’ exposure to intensive and protracted vibration.

Employees were not provided with information and training in relation to the risks of exposure to vibration, and were unaware they were at risk, or of the need for health surveillance. Had the employees been aware, exposure could have been reduced or eliminated.

Onward Homes Ltd of Hanover Street, Liverpool pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 5(1), 6(1) and 7 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Emily Osborne said: “If exposure to vibration is not controlled, workers can end up being diagnosed with HAVS, which can be the cause of significant ill-health, triggering painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints. Under these circumstances HSE can and will investigate – and prosecute where appropriate.”