Council hit with six-figure penalty for hand-arm vibration risks
Dacorum Borough Council in Hertfordshire has been handed a fine of £100,000 and over £28,000 in costs at Luton Magistrate’s Court for exposing workers to potential hand-arm vibration (HAVS) caused by overuse of power tools. The workers were members of the Council’s maintenance and street care team.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the Council had not informed workers about the health risks of HAVS, nor trained them in the safe use of power tools to prevent vibration injuries. Furthermore, the Council had not restricted how long workers could operate power tools without a break.
Rubeena Surnam, an HSE inspector, said:
“This was a case of the Council failing to identify the risk from hand-arm vibration, which is a recognised health risk with potentially disabling consequences.”
Hand-arm vibration caused by excessive use of power tools can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve damage and restricted blood flow. The HSE recommends limiting the time for which power tools are used. People working with power tools should have warm protective workwear to keep them dry and warm, which encourages good blood circulation and helps protect them from the effects of HAVS. Gloves alone may not be sufficient protection.
Some power tools have vibration-reducing features and the HSE advises that all purchasing staff should be aware of HAVS and look for tools that keep vibration to a minimum.
All staff need to be made aware of the dangers of HAVS and trained to not use power tools for extended periods.