Charter Housing Association Ltd. (now Pobl Group Ltd) of High St., Newport were tried at Cwmbran Magistrates Court earlier this month. Charter reported the cases after launching a health surveillance programme in 2015. Daily use of power tools had exposed maintenance staff to excessive vibration.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) develops through frequent use of vibrating tools or machinery. Early symptoms are tingling of the hand leading to decreased sensitivity and dexterity. This often results in pain, sleep deprivation, and a potential inability to safely carry out work duties. The condition is permanent and irreversible.
A HSE investigation found that Charter Housing had inadequately planned its work methods. It also did not provide the necessary training or information to its employees. The Housing Association pled guilty to breaching Regulations 5,6,7 and 8 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. They received a £100,000 fine and were ordered to pay costs of £9,896.88.
HSE inspector Joanne Carter commented on the case:
An individuals’ health should not be made worse by the work they do. If Charter Housing had correctly implemented its health surveillance earlier, it would have ensured the right systems were in place to monitor workers’ health. The six affected employees’ conditions may have been prevented from developing to a more severe stage.
How people work today can affect their health and wellbeing tomorrow. This case serves as an important reminder of the necessity of task based risk assessments to establish the level of exposure, control measures to reduce that exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable and effective health surveillance systems. In the case of Charter Housing this realisation came too late.
All employers need to do the right thing to protect workers’ health.
This message reinforces HSE’s current “Help GB Work Well” strategy. This strategy puts an increased emphasis on tackling ill-health at work. Last year alone, work-related ill-health cost UK businesses an estimated £9.7 billion. There were a reported 159,000 new cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, including HAVS.
Alcumus' monitoring services can help you control health risks such as HAVS. Our occupational hygienists specialise in assessing hazards across complex workplaces. We can support with the following monitoring services:
- Hand/arm/whole body vibration (HAV)
- Air monitoring
- Noise exposure
- Workplace environment surveys
- Bespoke solutions