Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Linde fined £64,000 after 21 employees were diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome

Merthyr Tydfil based Linde Heavy Truck Division Ltd manufacturer was fined £64,793.60 (inc.costs) after 21 employees were left permanently injured after being diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
The circumstances were:
  • There had been no recognition of the risks from hand-arm vibration and no effective management of these risks over many years.
  • The duties of employers regarding hand-arm vibration have been very clearly set out for many years, yet the company failed to implement the necessary measures.
  • In 2011 Linde appointed a new health and safety manager who recognised the need to put measures in place to manage HAVS, including health surveillance. These measures had not been in place before.
  • A total of 21 employees were diagnosed with HAVS and this was reported to HSE under RIDDOR.
  • The employees that are affected by HAVS suffer symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in their hands. This affects sleep when it occurs at night and they have difficulties in gripping and holding things, particularly small items such as screws, doing up buttons, writing and driving.
  • The biggest impact on the employees’ lives was that the factory closed down at the end of 2013 and they were made redundant.

The HSE Inspector said:
“The employees were exposed to the risk of hand arm vibration on a daily basis yet Linde Heavy Truck Division failed to recognise this. 
There was no health surveillance to identify employees who might already have some vibration damage even though they employed ex-miners and experienced fitters, or to pick up whether someone was suffering symptoms before they became serious. From 2000, when the factory opened, until its closure in 2013 there was never a fully compliant management system for hand arm vibration and 21 employees have suffered life changing injuries as a result.”

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