Contractor fined £40k after workers contract HAVS

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Contractor Peter Duffy has been fined £40,000 after several employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS)

Peter Duffy reported seven cases of Hand Arm Vibration between November 2016 and August 2018.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how all of the workers involved had been carrying out groundworks involving vibrating tools. Many of them had been working in the industry for over 20 years.

HSE investigation

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that in 2016 the company contracted a new occupational health provider to replace their existing one.

The diagnosis of the workers’ conditions resulted from these changes. Prior to the new company taking over the contract, there was no suitable health surveillance in place to identify HAVS.

Peter Duffy Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £3,919 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley, said: “The company should have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify the level of vibration employees were exposed to throughout their working day and then put in place appropriate control measures.

“Furthermore, the company should have put in place suitable health surveillance to identify HAVS in their workforce.”

What is HAVS?

Hand Arm Vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health – painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent.

It is serious and disabling, and nearly two million people are at risk.

Damage from Hand Arm Vibration can include the inability to do fine work and cold can trigger painful finger blanching attacks.

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