Blog - Industrial Disease

Council Fined after 29 Employers Suffer Condition from Vibrating Tools

A council on Merseyside has been fined after 29 of its employers developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome from using vibrating machinery.

At Wirral Magistrates Court yesterday, it was recounted that 29 workers for Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council had developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in just over a four year period between 2005 and 2009.

HAVS can cause the tips of the fingers to go white. It also causes pain and numbness, with heightened sensitivity to cold weather. The effects are mainly irreversible.

The council employees, who developed HAVS, did so from using vibrating equipment to cut grass, trees and bushes. The Health and Safety Executive investigated the council and found that they had not assessed the risks of using such tools, and had not taken steps to limit exposure to vibrating tools.

The HSE reports that one of the workers who developed the condition, worked as the Head Green Keeper at Hoylake Golf Course. After developing HAVS from the prolonged use of mowers and strimmers, he had to move jobs to one that does not use machinery.

The council pleaded guilty to breaking Control of Vibration at Work Regulations at Wirral Magistrates Court yesterday. They were fined £25,000.

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