Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a serious but preventable disabling condition. Nearly two million people are at risk of developing HAVS. It occurs from frequent exposure to vibration, including significant use of hand-held tools and machinery over a prolonged period of time.
Earlier this month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Ross and Cathedral Limited – a company that manufactures and supplies metal bars for aerospace and automotive industries - after two of its employees had been diagnosed with HAVS. This resulted in a fine of £200,000.
The two employees carried out a variety of tasks using vibrating tools for extended periods of time, across a number of years, without systems in place to control their exposure to vibration. A RIDDOR report was submitted regarding their HAVS diagnosis, which prompted an HSE investigation. This revealed that there was no risk assessment in place to identify exposure levels, no control measures in place to mitigate risks and poor health surveillance for staff.
HAVS is not just a concern for manufacturing companies, but rather all organisations that have employees using hand-guided power equipment and machinery as part of their day-to-day roles. Prosecutions for HAVs are common and a risk we regularly highlight in our sector and prosecution updates.
Organisations need to exercise caution and ensure that they are meeting their regulatory obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.