Aylesbury Crown Court has imposed a substantial fine upon a company (‘the company’) as the result of a number of its employees having suffered Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (‘HAVS’).      

Amandeep Murria of Kangs Solicitors sets out the circumstances.

The Circumstances | Kangs Solicitors Health and Safety Team

  • Between 2009 and 2014, a number of the company’s employees used vibrating powered tools at various maintenance sites.
  • The powered tools were being used to carry out various types of ground maintenance.
  • As a result of the use of these tools, employees developed HAVS.  

The Health & Safety Executive conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that the company had failed: 

1. to replace the powered tools, which increased the levels of vibration

2. to undertake any health risk assessments regarding the use of the equipment.

3. to implement adequate training on how the equipment should be used.

The Relevant Law | Kangs Regulatory Law Advisors

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (‘the Act’) provides:

‘2  General duties of employers to their employees.

(1) It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular

(a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;

(b) arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;

(c) the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;

(d) so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;

(e) the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.’

The Hearing | Kangs Health and Safety Solicitors

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2 (1) of the Act and was:

  • fined £600,000   
  • ordered to pay Prosecution Costs of £13,995.06         

An Inspector from the Health & Safety Executive, Andrew McGill, was quoted as saying:

“Companies must manage the risks associated with vibrating tools. Hand arm vibration can be a significant health risk wherever powered hand tools are used for significant lengths of time.

“HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. Damage from HAVS can include the inability to do fine work and cold can trigger painful finger blanching attacks. Health surveillance is vital to detect and respond to early signs of damage.”

How Can We Help? | Kangs Safety At Work Solicitors

Kangs Solicitors has a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with all matters of health and safety law.

Our specialist solicitors are able to provide advice and assistance throughout the entire criminal process, from the initial intervention by the Health and Safety Executive through to enforcement, interview under caution and ultimately the defence of any ensuing criminal prosecution.

Who Can I Contact For Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors

Please feel free to contact our team through any of the solicitors named below who will be happy to provide you with some initial advice and assistance.

Hamraj Kang
hkang@kangssolicitors.co.uk
07976 258171 | 020 7936 6396 | 0121 449 9888

Amandeep Murria
amurria@kangssolicitors.co.uk
020 7936 6396 | 0121 449 9888

John Veale
jveale@kangssolicitors.co.uk
0121 449 9888 | 07989 521 210