Coach and bus builder Alexander Dennis Ltd has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly £20,000 after it ignored warnings about dangers of HAVS among its staff and their frequent, long-term use of vibrating equipment.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how back in 2012, nine workers from the company’s refurbishment depot in South Yorkshire had developed HAVS. Since then, up to 25 staff at their Plaxton motor vehicle repair centre had been exposed to uncontrolled hand-arm transmitted vibration. The Health and Safety Executive found that the company had no system in place to restrict or even monitor the amount of time employees spent using hand-help power tools, and no system to replace the tools when they were old or worn out. A lack of maintenance of the tools was also part of the problem; meaning that the tools were not working at their optimum performance levels to minimise vibration.
Hand arm transmitted vibration can cause a range of conditions collectively known as HAVS alongside specific diseases such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Vibration White Finger. HAVS is a permanent condition that can affect a person’s ability to work due to numbness and pain in their fingers, and the reduced grip and dexterity which can affect the hands.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Christine Mellor said: “Alexander Dennis continually ignored their employees’ symptoms which showed they were suffering from the effects of vibration caused by the extensive use of a variety of hand-held power tools – sanders, drills, grinders etc. It failed to heed recommendations from consultants they had engaged to assist in managing the health risks to employees, including the advice from occupational health professionals. At the same time, the company was fully aware that successful civil claims had been brought by employees. Despite all this, Alexander Dennis continued to expose employees to an uncontrolled risk. The risks associated with the use of hand-held power tools and of developing HAVS and carpel tunnel syndrome are well recognised in the industry. There has been written guidance from HSE since 1994 and specific regulations setting out the duties of employers since 2005. There can be no excuse for the company’s reckless disregard for their employees’ health HAVS is a serious, permanent condition which frequently has lifelong consequences.”
If you have suffered as a result of vibration in your workplace, contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.