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Rock drilling co and director sentenced over multiple HAVS cases

A Devon-based firm that provides services in rock drilling, cliff stabilisation and rock anchors has been fined after three workers were diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Image credit: ©iStock/Eraxion
Alwyn Griffith Hughes Thomas, director of Celtic Rock Services, was also fined after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the Buckfastleigh company.
Plymouth Magistrates’ Court was told that the employees had developed and reported symptoms of HAVS but Celtic Rock Services had failed to act. 
The workers used tools such as rock drills and jack hammers for cliff stabilisation work, which was often carried out by abseiling down a cliff and using the tools horizontally while working with ropes. The affected trio began to experience symptoms such as pins and needles and aching hands, in one case since 2000. After an occupational nurse was employed in 2016, the HAVS problem was identified.
The HSE found that the company’s risk assessment did not identify the actual exposure to vibration and had used out of date vibration data. Its investigation also found that there had not been any health surveillance until 2016. Employees were not made aware of HAVS and its symptoms. 
Celtic Rock Services pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £36,667. It must also pay £3,560 costs.
The firm’s director pleaded guilty to breaching s 37 of the HSW Act. He was handed a 12-week custodial sentence, suspended for one year, a 12-week curfew and was also ordered to pay £3,560 costs.
HSE inspector Caroline Penwill said that, had the company understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor workers’ health and the employees’ conditions would not have been allowed to develop. 


Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton was previously acting editor of IOSH Magazine. Before that he was editor of SHP and he has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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