An industrial injury case against Thanet Council in Kent has been escalated to Crown Court after the organisation failed to enter a plea.
The case is the result of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the council’s ground maintenance workers, with several staff suing for compensation after developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), or ‘white finger’.
The workers are thought to be suffering with varying degrees of the condition, and five workers are reported to be seriously affected.
The case brought against Thanet council by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now been committed to Canterbury Crown Court.
Severe industrial injury
White finger is usually caused by prolonged exposure to vibrating machinery, leading to permanent health problems, including reduced manual dexterity.
Frequent exposure to vibration can also lead to blanching, which sees blood prevented from flowing to the fingers and can cause excessive pain and makes outside work difficult.
In the most serious cases, those affected by HAVS could lose their fingers.
Employers are not legally obligated to continually measure workers’ exposure to vibrations.
However, HSE regulations require the risk of white finger to be reduced to “as low as reasonably practicable” and this is covered under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.
The case has now been escalated to Crown Court, with Magistrates not having sufficient powers to impose fines of greater than £5,000.
The starting point for fines if found guilty of the health and safety breaches is between £450,000 and £1.2 million at Crown Court.
The case will be heard on October 18.
Source: Kent Live News
Date Published: October 8, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown