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Firm fined £120k for ignoring HAVS

 An engineering firm has been fined £120,000 after telling a welder to keep working despite complaining of sore hands from vibrating tools

Newfield Fabrications Co Ltd was prosecuted for failing to manage the risk of employees using hand held power tools experiencing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Manchester and Salford Magistrates heard how Newfield Fabrications failed to ensure its employees were given sufficient information, instruction and training on the effects of working with vibrating hand tools.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that sometime towards the end of 2015, a welder who had been working at the company for a number of years had been given a job that involved a significant amount of grinding and polishing.

After a number of hours on the task, he began to experience numbness and tingling and so asked to swap with another worker – but he was told he had to carry on. Even though his symptoms continued, he was told by his supervisor to carry on using vibrating tools.

A few weeks later, a 20-year-old apprentice welder also began to suffer from vibration-related symptoms from using similar tools.

Newfield Fabrications Co Ltd of Sandbach, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 8(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. It was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £7,241 costs.

HSE inspector Helen Jones said after the hearing: “This is a case of the company failing to protect workers using vibrating tools. Exposure to hand arm vibration is a well-known risk which the company failed to adequately control. The company also failed to ensure workers were looked after when symptoms did arise leading to further exposure. This was wholly inadequate, and led to two employees suffering significant health effects.”

Source: The Construction Index

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