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Property co fined £600,000 for lack of HAVS surveillance

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a property management organisation after five employees developed hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). 

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HSE investigators found that between 2009 and 2014 five employees of Places for People Homes used vibrating powered tools to carry out grounds maintenance tasks at sites in Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Hull.

Aylesbury Crown Court was told the company, which owns or manages nearly 200,000 properties across the UK, failed to assess or manage the risks associated with vibrating tools. It also failed to provide suitable training or health surveillance for its maintenance workers and failed to maintain and replace tools which increased vibration levels.

HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent

Places for People Homes, which had a turnover of £827m in 2018/19, pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £13,995 costs.

“Companies must manage the risks associated with vibrating tools," said HSE inspector Andrew McGill. "Hand-arm vibration can be a significant health risk wherever powered hand tools are used for significant lengths of time.

“HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. Damage from HAVS can include the inability to do fine work and cold can trigger painful finger blanching attacks. Health surveillance is vital to detect and respond to early signs of damage.”

 

Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.

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