A truck company in South Wales has been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly £15,000 after 21 of its workers were diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard how the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation into the company found that there had been no recognition of the risks from hand-arm vibration and no effective management of the risks for many years. There had been no health surveillance, even though a lot of the workers had previously worked in mining and hence were potentially more likely to develop the condition.
The duties of employers regarding hand arm vibration have been clearly set out for many years, but the company had failed to implement the necessary measures until the risks were identified by a new health and safety manager.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Helen Turner said: “The employees were exposed to the risk of hand arm vibration on a daily basis yet Linde Heavy Truck Division failed to recognise this. There was no health surveillance to identify employees who might already have some vibration damage even though they employed ex-miners and experienced fitters, or to pick up whether someone was suffering symptoms before they became serious. From 2000, when the factory opened, until its closure in 2013 there was never a fully compliant management system for hand arm vibration and 21 employees have suffered life changing injuries as a result.”
The symptoms of HAVS include tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the sufferers’ hands and arms. It can be very difficult for people suffering with HAVS to grip and hold things, and particularly difficult to deal with small items such as doing up buttons and picking up small objects. It can lead to a lack of sleep when the pain continues through the night, and as a result can cause mental health issues if it is not dealt with suitably.
If you or someone you care for suffers from HAVS and you believe it developed as s result of their employment, it is quite likely you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Employers have a duty to protect the health and welfare of their workers and that includes minimising the risks from vibration. Contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out how we can help you get the pay out you deserve. Calls are free and you are under no obligation to continue with a case if you chose not to do so.