Published: 16:00, 22 July 2014 |
Updated: 17:34, 22 July 2014
A Ramsgate firm has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay nearly £50,000 in costs after one of its workers was left with a permanent disability.
The staff member of Cummins Power Generation Ltd had been working for a long time with vibrating machine tools, Canterbury magistrates heard.
A further four employees were also diagnosed with symptoms of early Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), a debilitating condition that can't be reversed.
The firm was prosecuted for safety breaches after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was made aware of the high incidence of HAVS among its staff.
The court heard Cummins Power Generation had failed to manage the exposure of their employees to the serious risks of vibration for more than 10 years.
As a result one employee in particular was diagnosed with advanced HAVS in both hands.
Although he still works with the company he has to ask for the help of a colleague whenever a task requires the use of a hand-held power tool.
HSE found the company failed to assess their workers’ level of exposure to vibration until HSE began its investigation.
By this time some employees were either at or beyond the trigger levels for developing symptoms. The firm also failed to put preventative measures in place until HSE served an improvement notice.
"Hand-arm vibration can have a significant impact on a worker's health" - Alison Benfield
The company, of Columbus Avenue, Manston, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £49,149 in costs after admitting a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alison Benfield said: "HSE guidance on HAVS was published as long ago as 1994 so vibration risk has been widely known for many years - "white-finger" was a common industry term for HAVS.
"Cummins Power Generation failed to manage this risk over a significant period of time, from early 1998 to early 2009, across its sites in both Ramsgate and Margate.
"Hand-arm vibration can have a significant impact on a worker's health.
"If the use of power tools is not controlled correctly by engineering and manufacturing companies, workers can develop HAVS to a degree that will have a permanent disabling impact on their working and social lives."
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Find out what's going on in the garden, with Kent expert Lucy Hewett's weekly update.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.