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Housing association sentenced after employees suffer debilitating nerve damage

BY Michelle Sneyd
Health & Safety

Onward Homes Ltd has been fined after four employees developed a debilitating nerve condition over several years whilst working at various sites carrying out ground maintenance and general construction work using vibrating power tools on a daily basis.

Regular use of vibrating tools causes the painful and disabling disorder which, in this case, has left the employees with nerve damage to the hands and arms; making everyday tasks and leisure activities difficult or impossible.

The HSE’s investigation found that Onward Homes Ltd failed to prevent or reduce its employees’ exposure to intensive and protracted vibration, that employees were not provided with information and training about the risks of exposure to vibration, or of the need for health surveillance and ways to minimise exposure using controls.

The HSE Inspector said, “If exposure to vibration is not controlled, workers can end up being diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), which can be the cause of significant ill-health, triggering painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

Onward Homes Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 5(1), 6(1) and 7 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,293.10.

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