Company prosecuted for failing to control risks to employees using vibrating tools
29th October 2021
A company that manufactures and sells medical devices for the healthcare industry has been fined for failing to adequately control the risk to its employees from exposure to vibration when using vibrating tools.
Newport Magistrates’ Court heard that employees were using vibrating tools including strimmers, hedge cutters, grinders, drills and linishers, for long periods of time without suitable controls to reduce the risks.
As a result, two employees, the earliest of which had started at the company using vibrating tools in 1991, are suffering ill-health from hand arm vibration.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that before August 2019 the company, failed to; adequately assess the risks of using vibrating tools, put in place measures to control the risk, provide suitable information, instruction and training on the risks to employees and place the employees under suitable health surveillance to monitor their condition.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £246,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,788.
Speaking after the hearing the HSE inspector said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of managing exposure to vibration. HAVS is a serious, disabling and permanent condition. If the company had put in place suitable controls to reduce exposure and health surveillance to monitor workers’ health, then the employees’ condition would not have developed to a severe and life altering stage.”
Further guidance can be found on the HSE website. All tools and equipment have a label identifying the vibration level, this can be input to the HSE vibration calculate along with the time the employee uses the equipment and a exposure figured will be produced.
The Vibration Regulations include an exposure action value (EAV) and an exposure limit value (ELV) based on a combination of the vibration at the grip point(s) on the equipment or work-piece and the time spent gripping it. The exposure action and limit values are:
■ a daily EAV of 2.5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a clear risk requiring management;
■ a daily ELV of 5 m/s2 A(8) that represents a high risk above which employees should not be exposed