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A manufacturer based in Merthyr Tydfil has been found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation, after 21 of the company's workers were left with life-changing hand injuries.

Linde Heavy Truck Division Ltd employed a manager for health and safety in 2011, who immediately realised that measures needed to be put in place to manage the risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Prior to 2011, there had been no measures in place at the company, placing employees at risk of the condition.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation, and Merthyr Tydfil court heard that the company previously did not recognise the risks of HAVS and no system had been implemented to manage the risks of the condition. As a result, 21 workers at the company were diagnosed with HAVS, which was reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) to the HSE.

Symptoms experienced by the sufferers include pins and needles, numbness, tingling and pain in the hands. This can cause difficulties gripping or holding items, like being able to fasten a button or even driving. At the end of 2013, the company closed and the employees were made redundant, leaving many unable to find work. Helen Turner, an inspector for HSE, said that the company failed to recognise that its workers were exposed on a regular basis to the risks of HAVS, with the result that 21 employees have conditions than affect their lives.

Failure to put health and safety measures in place can result in long-term injuries, or even death. The use of PPE, risk management, specialist workwear and other measures, must be complied with to prevent this happening.

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