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A number of employees of Thanet District Council have been diagnosed as suffering from Hard Arm Vibration (HAV), following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Canterbury Crown Court was told that a worker had been diagnosed with the condition by his GP. The employee suffers with pins and needles, tingling, pain, and numbness in his hands. If the symptoms occur at night, they can impact on the sufferer's quality of sleep. The symptoms also make it difficult to hold and grip items, and in particular to drive, write, fasten up buttons and handle small items like screws.

The investigation discovered that the worker spent around six hours each day using a range of equipment, including hedge cutters and mowers, dependent on the time of year. The council did not inform him of how to report his symptoms, or place him under any kind of health surveillance. No steps had been taken by the council to prevent or control exposure of their workforce to HAVs, and a lack of training and risk monitoring was also a factor in the onset of HAV. Once the council began to implement surveillance and tackle the problem, another 15 cases came forward.

Thanet District Council was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay costs of £18,325 after pleading guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations. Mike Walters, inspector with HSE, stated that HAVs are preventable when risks are monitored, training provided and exposure limited. It may also be practical to utilize PPE to minimize damage.

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