North West Housing Association prosecuted after exposing staff to vibration hazard

A North West housing association has been fined after failing to manage exposure to vibration, resulting in a diagnosis of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVs) for one of its employees. HAVS is a serious condition caused by regular and frequent exposure to hand arm vibration which can result in tingling, numbness, pain and loss of strength in the hands.

Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard how employees in the grounds maintenance section of Calico Homes Limited were regularly exposed to vibration when using gardening equipment. In August 2017, an employee of the company received a diagnosis of HAVS who had previously worked in this section.

An investigation by the HSE found that Calico had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the use of vibrating tools. The company were unaware of the extent to which employees were exposed to vibration and so had not implemented suitable control measures. Calico also failed to provide employees with suitable information, instruction, and training.

Calico based in Burnley pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,335.

This case underlines the fact that companies may not be aware of all of the risks and hazards that their staff face. If the company in question had sought the advice of a health and safety professional, such as provided by Aegis, this problem would have been identified and addressed. The health issue to the staff and the prosecution will all have been avoided.