Rochdale firm fined £60,000 after workers diagnosed with HAVS

A Rochdale company has been fined £60,000 after failing to protect its staff from injuries caused by using vibrating power tools.

Hanson Springs, based in Gorrells Way, Rochdale, Greater Manchester, admitted breaching health and safety laws which led to seven of its employees being diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

The  industrial spring manufacturer was also ordered to pay costs of £5,320 and a victim surcharge of £120 at Manchester Magistrates Court.

The court heard how regulations were ignored and workers were exposed after working on hand grinding machines for up to an hour a day.

Hand arm vibration syndrome is often referred to as vibration white finger (VWF) and causes numbness and tingling in the fingers, loss of strength, dexterity and blanching of the fingertips -making them turn white.

The condition can also become permanent.

The court heard that a health and safety manager at the company became aware of the problem and commissioned reports into it in 2011, but company bosses were unaware the reports existed.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited and the company two years later and made a list of improvement recommendations, but according to the HSE not enough was done.

District judge Nicholas Sanders said he accepted that the firm has now taken steps to remedy the problem.

He said: “I accept many aspects of the HSE analysis in this case. Hanson Springs fell far short of the appropriate standard.”

District judge Sanders said the inaction of the firm following the HSE inspection in 2013 was of ‘particular concern’.

He added: “In some areas efforts were made, for example training was present but delayed, an at risk register was used but didn’t cover all the ground it needed to.

“On the other hand the company weren’t being made aware of any specific problems by its employees.”

The court heard that all seven of the workers had not developed permanent hand arm vibration syndrome, although one had been diagnosed with a different medical problem.

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