Contractor Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions has been fined £500,000 with costs of £195,000 for exposing workers to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) over a nine-year period and failing to report cases of HAVS that arose.
Stone Specialist writes:
The levels of the fines should come as a warning to all stone companies whose masons use pneumatic chisels and power tools for cutting and polishing. The case this month (June) was brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which found that workers at the company were exposed to hand-arm vibration between 2002 and 2011, putting them at risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome.
HAVS is a permanent condition affecting the nerves and blood vessels of the hand. It can cause pain, tingling and numbness, making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks such as gripping and lifting objects, fastening buttons and zips, using a knife and fork or using a tooth brush… There is a high incidence of it in stonemasonry.
Sheffield Crown Court heard the case against Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd on 18 June…
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Christine Mellor said: ‘This case was about failing to protect workers. Exposure to Hand-Arm Vibration is a well-known risk which Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd failed to adequately control. The company failed to heed warnings. Early health surveillance detected ill health but still this was not acted upon to prevent on-going exposure. This is a particularly serious case because of the extent and duration of failures. The breaches were repeated over several years and this resulted in persistent poor compliance.’