Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Suffered by Employees Costs Company £20,000

Babcock Flagship Ltd has been ordered to pay costs of £10,000 and a fine of £10,000 after three men employed to maintain the grounds of HMS Raleigh were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The three men employed to maintain the grounds of the naval base in Cornwall had used machinery such as hedge cutters and trimmers for up to 8 hours a day. The prolonged use of the vibrating tools led to permanent nerve damage.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed the company had knowledge that vibration-related conditions or health issues could be exacerbated by the use of vibrating machinery and yet failed to take the necessary precautions to protect their workers.

Babcock Flagship Ltd had available to them reports between 2009 – 2011 which made them aware of the dangers of its staff developing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. The court was told that Babcock Flagship Ltld failed to put any precautionary measures in place to protect their staff either before or after having the reports available.

The HSE said the company failed to put any controls in place such as such as limiting their exposure to vibrating machinery or providing alternatives.
Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive Inspector Emma O’Hara said: “Almost half of all the ill-health reports sent to the Health and Safety Executive relate to Hand Arm Vibration and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome associated with working with vibrating tools, many from the horticulture industry.

The HSE has reported that half of all the ill-health reports sent to them relate to hand arm vibration and an estimated 2 million UK workers are at risk of vibration-related ill health such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HVAS) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Once damage has taken place there is little that can be done medically to treat the condition.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome is normally suffered by workers in the mining, steel and engineering industries. Machinery that can cause HAVS include pneumatic drills and hammers, chainsaws, hand-held grinders and gardening equipment. Symptoms include tingling in the hands, aching in the wrists and forearms and numbness in the finger tips.

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