15th June 2022
Furniture Manufacturer Fined £150K Due To Lack Of Risk Assessment
A North Wales company that manufactures sofas and chairs has recently been prosecuted after failing to ensure that employees’ exposure to the risks from vibrating tools was sufficiently risk assessed and managed.
It transpires that the company had not carried out a thorough risk assessment, didn’t have adequate control measures to manage exposure to vibration, or any employee health surveillance in place. They also failed to assess or take any action, following a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) for two employees.
CTS is pressure on a nerve in the wrist. It causes tingling, numbness and pain in your hand and fingers. Hand Arm Vibration (HAV) exposure is associated with CTS and therefore is a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 2013.
Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was discovered that, despite previous HSE intervention in 2016, the company had failed to properly assess the levels of vibration exposure to their employees. This resulted in at least two employees being expected to carry out their normal duties, even though they had been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. One of the employees has since suffered permanent nerve damage and is no longer able to work at all.
The North Wales-based company appeared at Mold Magistrates Court where they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £150,000.00 and ordered to pay costs of £14,033.50.
Speaking after the case, the HSE inspector involved in the case, said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of managing their employee’s exposure to vibration, whilst using hand-held tools. Employers should conduct a full assessment of the vibration magnitude and exposure duration, before reviewing whether employees are at risk.’’
If you have any queries regarding risk assessment or undertaking vibration measurements, don’t hesitate to call our advice line today on 0300 303 5228.