William Eichler 05 October 2017

Council fined £150,000 for ‘failing’ to tackle vibration-related illnesses

A Welsh council has been fined £150,000 after it failed to address vibration-related illnesses affecting its workers.

Wrexham council was handed the fine after the local magistrates’ court heard how a 57-year old employee of the council’s StreetScene department had been diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in September 2015.

HAVS is caused from the use of hand-held power tools and can result in painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the council had failed to address the issue of HAVS following an audit four years earlier which identified a failure to assess the risk to employees from vibration.

HSE discovered the council had developed a number of policies dating back to 2004 to tackle the risk of HAVS. However, these policies were not implemented.

The council has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,901.35.

HSE inspector Mhairi Duffy said: ‘This employee now suffers from a long term, life changing illness. The council should have implemented the policy they devised following the audit in 2011.

‘Workers’ health should not be made worse by the work they do; all employees have the right to go home healthy at the end of the working day.’

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