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Rise in prosecutions for HAVS injuries

16 February 2017

Warnings have been issued to employers in all areas following an increase in the numbers of prosecutions following workers suffering from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

Recent high profile court cases have seen British Airways and a large local authority found to be in breach of the law, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA).

It also refers to the recent Building Safety Group report that highlighted a 42% rise in the number of HAVS breaches, resulting from 20,000 site inspections conducted in 2016.

A number of employers also received fines totaling more than £250,000 following prosecutions over HAVS issues and breaching the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

The effects of HAVS are permanent once damage has been sustained and it is estimated that 2m workers in the UK are at risk of this type of injury.

Symptoms include tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the hands and can result in difficulty in gripping and holding, with the added possibility of sleep deprivation.

BESA head of technical services Russell Mott said: "It is vital that employers take this issue seriously.

"Clearly the HSE and legal teams are stepping up pressure to make sure companies are taking the right steps to reduce employees' exposure to the risk of serious and permanent damage.

"Increased time and cost pressures on employers are not an excuse to take short-cuts with your staff welfare," he said.

Mr Mott further warned about basing risk management strategies on equipment performance figures published by manufacturers.

"There are clear differences between what is published in product brochures and what actually happens in the real world," he said.

"A CE test regime will not take equipment wear and tear into account or its correct use in a work situation, for example."

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