Balfour Beatty issued massive £500k fine by HSE
Sheffield-based contractor Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions have been hit with a £500k fine after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found workers were put at risk of developing a life-changing health condition.
The HSE found in their investigation that Balfour Beatty failed in their duty of care to protect their employees using high-powered hand held tools, which with repetitive use can lead to the presentation of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
HAVS is caused by excessive use of vibratory hand held high powered tools and symptoms can include damage to the nerves, blood vessels and pain and numbness in the joints of the hand, wrist and arm. The condition is so severe that it can lead to disability, creating challenges for a worker to find employment.
The HSE found reported that staff at Balfour Beatty were subjected to potentially harmful levels of vibrations when using high powered hand-held tools such as hydraulic breakers and floor saws over a nine year period between 2002 and 2011.
The investigation also found that the company neglected to conduct risk assessments, failing to put any risk control measures in place providing employees with a suitable system for health surveillance. Balfour Beatty also did not meet their legal requirement to report a number of cases where workers were diagnosed with HAVS to the suitable authorities.
The Sheffield firm pleaded guilty to two breaches which were “Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974” and “Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995”.
HSE inspector Christine Mellor said after the hearing:
“This case was about failing to protect workers. Exposure to hand-arm vibration is a well-known risk which Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd. failed to adequately control.
“The company failed to heed warnings. Early health surveillance detected ill health but still this was not acted upon to prevent on-going exposure.
“This is a particularly serious case because of the extent and duration of failures. The breaches were repeated over several years and this resulted in persistent poor compliance.”
A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said:
“The shortcomings in processes identified in this case took place many years ago and were addressed prior to the start of the investigation by the HSE. The judge acknowledged both this and that there was no evidence of anyone coming to harm as a result.
“Balfour Beatty takes its responsibilities both for Health and Safety extremely seriously.”
Roberts Jackson Solicitors are experts in helping sufferers of HAVS gain compensation, with an experienced team ready to help claimants gain access to justice. If you feel you are suffering from symptoms of hand arm vibration syndrome as a result of your work, feel free to get in touch with Roberts Jackson Solicitors either by calling us on 0800 001 4496 or alternatively you can leave your details on one of the contact forms on our website and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours of you leaving your enquiry.