Engineering sector must improve vibration safety
In the past few months two engineering companies based in the North West have been fined after they failed to protect their employees from vibration injury at work. The cases reflect the ongoing battle to raise awareness and understanding of the high potential for vibration injury in the workplace in many industries.
In July a Cheshire-based Fabricators was fined £120,000 for failing to protect a worker at its steel component factory. The welder complained to supervisors that equipment was causing him numbness and tingling in his hands but he was told to continue his work regardless. Despite his symptoms worsening, the supervisor instructed him to continue and similar circumstances occurred a few weeks later when a 20-year-old apprentice also suffered vibration problems after using similar equipment.
An HSE investigation found that the company had failed to control employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration and it also failed to give employees sufficient training or information on issues surrounding working with vibrating tools.
The second company to be fined was a Rochdale-based plastic and engineers firm. A worker in the company’s trimming department was exposed to vibration from sanding tools, resulting in a diagnosis of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). An HSE investigation found that vibration risk assessments at the company were not suitable or sufficient. This company also failed to provide adequate training for employees on the risks from vibration. In September the company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,171.00.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jennifer French said: “There is a well-known health risk associated with exposure to hand arm vibration and guidance has been in place since the early 1990’s. The company failed to protect workers using vibrating tools which led to an employee suffering significant health effects.”
Vibration injury is common in the engineering sector and awareness and training are vital to protect employees from harm.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (also known as Vibration White Finger) is a condition that is caused by excessive use of vibratory tools and causes permanent damage to the hands, fingers and arms.
- Tingling and numbness in fingers
- Not being able to feel things
- Loss of strength in the hands
- Fingers turning white (blanching) and becoming red and painful on recovery, (particularly in the cold and wet, and probably only in the tips at first.)
If you feel that you are being over exposed to levels of vibration whilst working you can check this on the HSE website using some of the online guides and calculators http://www.hse.gov.uk/vibration/hav/vibrationcalc.htm
Do not hesitate to seek legal advice if you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned in this article or even if you are unsure.
Roberts Jackson are experts in running these types of cases and can provide you with a no obligation claim assessment to establish your legal position. If you would like to have a claim assessment or bring a No Win No Fee claim for HAVS or VWF, please get in touch using our freephone number 0800 001 4496 or alternatively fill out the contact form found on the right of this page and we can call you back at a time convenient for you.