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Aerospace company in court after employee’s health suffers

Vector Aerospace International Limited has been fined after a number of workers were found to be suffering from varying degrees of a debilitating nerve condition.

What happened?

In total, 13 of the employees of the international firm had been diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), after working at the same site for between five and 45 years.

Two of which employees were diagnosed with Stage 3 of the syndrome; suffering with the most severe and painful symptoms.

Serious cases of HAVS can leave sufferers with circulation problems, white and dead hands in the cold and with extreme pain on warming. Additionally, nerve damage means those affected find it hard to carry out any day-to-day tasks that need dexterity and grip.

An investigation into the cases found that the company had surveyed the tools its workers were using in 2007, but decided that no controls were needed.

Though they later reviewed their risk assessment, the risks of vibration from the use of around 1,600 tools by 400-450 employees on the site was never controlled.

This led to some being exposed to vibration levels that exceeded the legal limits.

An investigation found that staff on site hadn’t been provided with any information about the risks posed from the work they were carrying out.

What was the outcome?

Vector Aerospace International Ltd admitted three charges under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, and was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay £2,514 in costs.

HSE inspector, Alec Ryan, 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.”

If you have been affected by HAVS, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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