A London-based firm has been fined £10,000 after three workers in Cornwall suffered permanent damage to their hands.
Babcock Flagship Ltd, of Wigmore Street, was also ordered to pay £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.
The company hired the men, who wish to remain anonymous, to work on the naval base HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, Cornwall.
Their job was to maintain the grounds at the base, which meant they had to use tools such as hedge cutters and strimmers for long periods of time.
As a result, they were exposed to significant levels of hand arm vibration (HAV), and all were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in January 2012.
Health and safety failings found
Truro Magistrates’ Court was told that the damage caused had a huge impact on the men’s ability to work and their quality of life.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found that Babcock Flagship Ltd knew that the three men suffered from vibration-related conditions, or health problems that could be made worse by vibration.
Babcock had received health surveillance reports between 2009 and 2011, the court heard, but did not put control measures in place before or after HAVS or CTS was diagnosed in the men.
The HSE also found that the firm did not carry out a proper assessment of the vibration risks staff are exposed to when using equipment such as hedge cutters or strimmers.
It also failed to limit the amount of time a worker could be exposed to the machinery, or to provide alternatives, adding that some grounds maintenance staff at the naval base regularly worked eight hours a day using the same equipment.
Making a claim for hand injury compensation
HSE Inspector Emma O’Hara pointed out that nearly one in two ill-health reports the HSE receives relate to HAVS and CTS connected to working with vibrating tools and many of these reports come from the horticultural sector.
She accused Babcock Flagship of failing to take appropriate action, even though warning signs had been raised in the health surveillance reports.
If you have suffered a hand injury and would like to make a claim for compensation, get in touch with Accident Advice Helpline.
Source: Cornwall Live