HAVS Risks ‘Must Be Tackled’ As Research Reveals ‘Cost’ Of Condition

Legal Expert Urges Employers To Put Health And Safety Of Workers First

22.08.2013

By Rob Dixon

A workplace illness specialist has called on employers to ensure they are doing everything they can to tackle the issue of vibration exposure, after new research suggested that hand arm vibration syndrome is costing Britain almost £5 billion.

According to research by Reactec, the economic cost of the condition based on figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is £4.92 billion, with the total cost per case of ill health in general being £16,400.

Such estimates are based on a breakdown of the impact on workers, including loss of income, as well as the consequences for employers, which would face sick pay payments and administrative costs.

The release of the figures has come after limousine manufacturer Woodall Nicholson Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £13,000 after pleading guilty to safety failings related to vibration exposure, following the diagnosis of seven employees with developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Trafford Magistrates Court heard that the men aged between 25 and 62 developed the condition while using a range of vibrating hand-held equipment during work at the company’s Wigan Road site over a six-year period from July 2005 to December 2011.

According to the HSE, its investigation found the employer failed to ensure the risk of vibration exposure from tools was reduced as low as reasonably possible across a long period of time. The HSE also issued an improvement notice requiring changes to working practices after being made aware of the workers’ condition.

Mark Lennon, an expert in Irwin Mitchell’s specialist industrial disease team in Birmingham, said: “This new research, as well as the recent HSE prosecution, have highlighted that vibration exposure remains a major concern in workplaces that needs to be tackled.

“Through our work we have seen numerous cases over the years when people have gone on to suffer this condition as a result of employers simply failing to implement basic safeguards which could have made a huge difference to the welfare of staff.

“The new figures must be a wake-up call on the issue and we hope that it ensures manufacturers and other companies involved in industrial work recognise the dangers of vibration exposure. The health and safety of staff members must always come first.”

If you or a loved one has suffered from repetitive strain injuries, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathy and vibration white finger caused by conditions at work, our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.