• Robert Spicer

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS): £20,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Cummins Power Generation Ltd (2014) Canterbury magistrates’ court, July 22.

Cummins Power Generation Ltd has been fined after five workers were diagnosed with HAVS.

Significant points of the case

  • The company had failed to manage the exposure of employees to serious risks from working with a range of vibrating machine tools for more than ten years at its sites in Ramsgate and Margate.

  • One employee was diagnosed with advanced HAVS in both hands. Another four workers were diagnosed with early stage HAVS. This condition cannot be reversed.

  • The company had failed to assess employees’ level of exposure to vibration until the HSE started its investigation. The employees were either at or beyond the trigger levels for developing symptoms.

  • The company had failed to put preventative measures in place until the HSE served an improvement notice.

The company was fined £20,000 plus £49,000 costs under section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

An HSE inspector is reported to have made the following comments after the case:

  • HSE guidance on HAVS was published in 1994. The company had failed to manage the risk from early 1998 until 2009.

  • Control measures could include purchasing tools with the lowest vibration levels, introducing better systems of work when possible to avoid exposure, making sure workers know how to use tools properly and regular health surveillance to detect early signs.

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