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Social landlord fined £80k after employees suffer Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

A housing association was earlier this month fined £80,00 after four employees developed a debilitating nerve condition over a period of several years.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the affected employees at Onward Homes developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), whilst working at various sites carrying out ground maintenance and general construction work using vibrating power tools on a daily basis.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the housing association failed to prevent or reduce its employees’ exposure to intensive and protracted vibration.

Employees were not provided with information and training in relation to the risks of exposure to vibration, and were unaware they were at risk, or of the need for health surveillance and ways to minimise exposure using controls, the HSE said. “Had the employees been aware, exposure could have been reduced or eliminated.”

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Onward Homes pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 5(1), 6(1) and 7 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. It was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,293.10

HSE Inspector Emily Osborne said: “ If exposure to vibration is not controlled, workers can end up being diagnosed with HAVS, which can be the cause of significant ill-health, triggering painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints. Under these circumstances HSE can and will investigate; and prosecute where appropriate.”

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