Bus And Coach Builder Alexander Dennis Ltd Fined After Ignoring Safety Warnings

HSE Fined Firm £100,000 For Putting Workers At Risk

25.06.2015

National coach and bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd has been fined £100,000 after management continually ignored warnings from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about the risks posed to the firm’s workers from overuse of hand-held power tools.

A hearing at Sheffield Crown Court heard that nine workers at Plaxton’s, an after sales, repair and refurbishment depot run by Alexander Dennis Ltd, were diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome, despite the company being warned workers were at risk of the debilitating condition.

Inspectors from the HSE found there were no restrictions in place on the type of hand-held power tools employees used, or the length of time they were allowed to use them.

It was also found there was no system in place to maintain tools and workers were not provided with information on minimising the effect of vibrations from power tools.

Alexander Dennis Ltd, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, trading as Plaxton of North Anston, Sheffield, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £18,643 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Christine Mellor said: “Alexander Dennis continually ignored their employees’ symptoms which showed they were suffering from the effects of vibration caused by the extensive use of a variety of hand-held power tools – sanders, drills, grinders etc.

It failed to heed recommendations from consultants they had engaged to assist in managing the health risks to employees, including the advice from occupational health professionals. At the same time, the company was fully aware that successful civil claims had been brought by employees. Despite all this, Alexander Dennis continued to expose employees to an uncontrolled risk.” 

Satinder Bains, a Partner and expert workplace illness lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: 

Expert Opinion
Health and safety regulations are in place for very good reason and it is absolutely crucial companies take their responsibilities for the safety of staff seriously.

“This means maintaining machinery and tools, providing clear working guidelines, monitoring the health of employees and adhering to recommendations made by the HSE. Clearly, in this case there were serious failings in this process and nine workers have now been diagnosed with HAVS.

“The condition can be debilitating for those affected and it could have easily been avoided had the correct procedures been in place. Hopefully, this will act as a reminder to employers to take the health and safety of their workers seriously and prevent incidents like this in the future.
Satinder Bains, Partner