Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Vector Aerospace fined £52,514 after failing to assess operations resulting in hand-arm vibration syndrome

Vector Aerospace International Limited, of Gosport, was fined £52,514 (inc. costs) on 3 November 2014 after personnel developed hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) symptoms.
The circumstances were:
  • Vector Aerospace has a workforce of 1,100 at Gosport. 
  • They surveyed the tools being used by workers in 2007. 
  • At that stage they took the decision that no controls were needed.
  • As a result the recognised risks of vibration from the use of around 1,600 tools by 400-450 employees on the site was never controlled. 
  • Personnel using such tools had not been provided with any information or training about the risks posed from the work they were carrying out.
  • The absence of mitigating measures for the workers led to some being exposed to vibration levels likely to have exceeded the legal limits.
  • 13 cases were identified in 2013/14 after improved health surveillance was eventually introduced.
  • Two of them were diagnosed at Stage 3 – showing the most severe and painful symptoms.

The HSE inspector said:
“Vector Aerospace had the resources to protect its employees from the well-known effects of excessive exposure to vibration but failed to do so over a significant number of years. As a result, 13 employees developed symptoms of HAVS which can affect all aspects of their lives. HSE’s intervention in 2013 was as a result of the company bringing in health surveillance for the first time. Although this identified these cases, it came too late for these workers. The company failed to assess the risks and implement the necessary controls. Employers have a duty to provide effective measures to ensure the health of their staff is not seriously or permanently harmed by the work they are asked to do.”

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