International Aerospace Company Receives Fine after 13 Employees Develop Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

International Aerospace Company Receives Fine after 13 Employees Develop Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

An International Aerospace company based in the UK has been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £2,514 in costs after 13 of its employees developed the nerve condition Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. All cases of the condition emerged from the same company site between the last 5 – 45 years. Two of the staff were reported to be suffering with the most painful symptoms after they were diagnosed at Stage 3 of the work related condition [1].

Hand Arm Vibration syndrome, or Vibration White Finger as it also commonly known, is a secondary form of Raynaud’s Disease brought on by exposure to tools that have a heavy vibratory effect on the person operating them [2]. The firm in question reviewed its safety procedures surrounding vibratory tools back in 2007 and decided that no controls were needed. As a result the employer eventually admitted three charges under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, which has led to the hefty fine.

Vibration White Finger is widely regarded as an older occupational disease with most incidents happening many years ago when employers were not as concerned about Health and safety. It has recently become a rarity to see an employer still exposing its staff to negligent levels of vibration however as this case points out, not totally unheard of.

The HSE inspector who investigated the incident, Alec Ryan has made the following statement:

They [The International Aerospace firm] had the resources to protect its employees from the well-known effects of excessive exposure to vibration but failed to do so over a significant number of years.

As a result, 13 employees developed symptoms of HAVS which can affect all aspects of their lives. HSE’s intervention in 2013 was as a result of the company bringing in health surveillance for the first time. Although this identified these cases, it came too late for these workers.

The company failed to assess the risks and implement the necessary controls. Employers have a duty to provide effective measures to ensure the health of their staff is not seriously or permanently harmed by the work they are asked to do“.

Roberts Jackson Solicitors, as industrial disease specialists, handle hundreds of cases involving the development of vibration injuries due to heavy tools. Our specialist vibration injuries team have years of experience running these cases to a successful conclusion and can advise you and your family of the next steps to take if you believe you have been affected by the condition.

Typical symptoms to be wary of include:

  • Loss of feeling in the fingertips
  • Blanching or fingers turning white at the tips
  • Lack of dexterity/grip
  • Attacks/Pain and aggravation in cold weather conditions

If you would like further information about Hand Arm Vibration syndrome or would like to see if you are eligible to make a claim please follow the links listed below.