Coach manufacturers receives hefty fine for failing to stop vibration exposure
An Edinburgh based manufacturer of coaches has received a large fine for failing to protect its employees from the work related condition – Vibration white finger (VWF)  .
The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay a further £18,000 in costs for repeatedly ignoring expert reports, guidance from the HSE and complaints from employees. The disregard shown to its staff has ultimately resulted in the diagnosis of vibration white finger (also known as Hand arm vibration syndrome or HAVS) for nine employees, all based in the Yorkshire area.
The investigation found that the company in question, failed completely in their duty to regulate what hand held tools were being used by which employees and the length of time they are being exposed. It found that the employer was in breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work act 1974.
VWF is a condition that can affect anyone working with hand held tools that emit levels of vibration through the hands. Common causes include pneumatic drills and plate whackers; however it is not always about the tools that are used but rather the length of time that a person uses them. Anti-vibration gloves have also been developed for further safe guarding to staff using these tools and the HSE have laid out guidelines on the length of time a certain should be used that can be found here .
Symptoms of VWF include numbness and blanching (whiteness) of the fingers as the condition effects the circulatory system and the blood vessels in the hand. A common sign to watch out for if you believe you have VWF is aggravated symptoms in cold conditions.
HSE inspector Christine Mellor, said: “This company 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, they 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.”
 Coach builder’s ‘reckless disregard’ results in £100k fine
 Hand-arm vibration exposure calculator http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/vibrationcalc.htm