Dacorum Borough Council has been fined £100,000 for exposing seven grounds maintenance workers to Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS), caused by excessive use of power tools
Luton Magistrates’ Court heard how Dacorum Borough Council reported seven cases of Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS) between May 2015 and June 2016. The affected employees were all part of its grounds maintenance and street care team, looking after the public spaces in Hertfordshire.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the council had neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health.
Additionally, Dacorum Borough Council did not limit the duration or magnitude of exposure to vibration and failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at an early stage.
Dacorum Borough Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and have been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,672.62.
Speaking after the hearing, 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.”
What is hand arm vibration (HAVS)?
Manifesting as white finger or carpal tunnel syndrome, HAVS is caused by the transfer of vibration through a workers hands and arms. Nerve damage and restricted blood flow to the hand and fingers can occur, this causes the debilitating symptoms and effects known as HAVS.
Any work that includes consistent or frequent exposure to vibration through the hands or arms can lead to debilitating and permanent health problems. Most commonly this is caused by the use of a tool that vibrates during use, but it is important to recognise how broad this category is.