Housing association fined for HAVS neglect
April 03, 2018 – A Gwent housing association has been fined £30,000 for failing to manage its employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) over a five-year period.
Newport Magistrates’ Court last week heard how, between July 2010 and May 2015, employees of Tai Calon Community Housing Limited were routinely exposed to vibration in their day to day work. Following the company’s introduction of health surveillance in May 2015, a number of employees were diagnosed with HAVS (sometimes known as vibration white finger), whose symptoms include pain and loss of strength in the hands.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Tai Calon failed to assess the risk to employees from the use of vibratory tools, failed to implement adequate measures to reduce employees’ exposure to vibration, failed to place employees under suitable health surveillance and failed to provide employees with suitable information, instruction and training.
Tai Calon Community Housing of The Rising Sun Industrial Estate, Blaina, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. It was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £2,789.25 in costs.
HSE inspector Paul Newton said after the hearing: “No one’s health should not be made worse by the work they do. In this case, if Tai Calon had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor its workers’ health.
“This prosecution highlights the health risks from using vibratory tools and the importance of employers having a health surveillance programme in place. Where vibratory tools are used, employers should monitor the health of employees using them and ensure appropriate systems are in place to manage and control the risk from vibration.”