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Court case highlights HAVS risk

24 November 2016

Risks of injury through hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) have been highlighted by a recent court case involving Thanet District Council.

The case resulted from one of the council's grounds maintenance workers suffering the effects of HAVS, following use of powered equipment for up to six hours a day.

He had not been told how to report his symptoms and the council had made no attempt to control exposure of its workers to HAVS, Canterbury Crown Court was told.

It had also failed to educate workers on the potential risks of the syndrome and there was no surveillance of staff relating to HAVS.

Following the workers' diagnosis by his GP, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued an improve notice.

After health surveillance was introduced, a further 15 cases relating to vibration were reported to the HSE.

The council was fined £250,000 with more than £18,000 costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(2) and 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

HSE principal inspector Mike Walters described hand arm vibration as a "serious disease that impacts on people's lives and their ability to work".

"It is entirely preventable but once the damage is done it is permanent," he continued.

Mr Walters said all organisations could learn from the case and ensure that workers using heavy machinery are trained to recognise the symptoms and reasonable measures are put in in place to protect them where necessary.

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