A recent prosecution brought against a council by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows the consequences for workers and employers of failure to comply with health and safety laws.
Seven employees of Dacorum Borough Council developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) from using vibrating tools between 2010 and 2016. This was reported to the HSE, which served an improvement notice on the Council. The HSE concluded that the Council had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment and had not provided adequate information and training to employees who were at risk.
The Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £28,672.62.
HSE inspector Rubeena Surnam said, "This was a case of the council failing to identify the risk from hand arm vibration which is a recognised health risk with potentially disabling consequences.
"Unless vibration is identified and properly assessed, an employer won't know the level of risk and whether action is needed to protect workers."
It is highly likely that the seven employees, and any others who go on to develop HAVS, will be entitled to compensation for their injuries. While HAVS can be prevented, it is irreversible once it has developed.
Information on hand arm vibration at work is available on the HSE's website.