$500,000 Fine Issued in UK Ergonomics Case

"This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance," HSE Inspector Janet Hensey said. "“If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor workers' health and the employees' condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life-altering stage."

A British company that makes and repairs aerospace components, Nordam Europe Limited, has been fined about $509,000 after a Health and Safety Executive investigation showed its workers were exposed to Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Cardiff Crown Court heard how about 100 employees of the company were exposed through their use of hand-held vibrating tools, such as orbital sanders, rivet guns, grinders, and drills, for years, causing them to develop HAVS. At least 30 employees were exposed to risk of significant harm, HSE reported.

The investigation found the company should have carried out a suitable assessment of work activities that exposed employees to vibration and should have implemented additional controls to reduce exposure so far as was reasonably practicable. It also should have had the workers undergo health surveillance to identify symptoms at an early stage of the disease, before it could progress to a disabling condition.

Nordam Europe Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and has been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £39,620.92.

"This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance," HSE Inspector Janet Hensey said. "If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor workers' health and the employees' condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life-altering stage."

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