Glazing company fined for failing to control risks of vibrating tools

A glass and glazing company which installs and repairs glass windscreens and side windows to buses, coaches, motor homes and trains, has been fined for failing to adequately control the risk to its employees from using vibrating tools.

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how employees of PSV Glass and Glazing Limited were required to use oscillating and reciprocating saws, known as Fein cutters, to remove the thick adhesive that had been used to secure the windows in place – sometimes for their entire shift. HSE received reports of 30 employees at the company being diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that on and before 20 August 2018, the company failed to adequately assess the risk to employees from exposure to vibration. They did not monitor the use of the Fein cutters and had not implemented measures to control exposure. There was no tool maintenance programme to ensure tools were working effectively to ensure vibration levels were kept to a minimum.

A large number of the 30 technicians affected are relatively young and have sustained life-changing permanent injury to their hands, which means they can no longer work with vibrating tools. Most now suffer constant pain and sensitivity to cold and struggle with everyday tasks.

PSV Glass and Glazing Limited of Hillbottom Road, High Wycombe pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5(1), 6(1), 7(1) and 8(1) of The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company has been fined £211,290.04 including a victim surcharge of £70 and ordered to pay costs of £11,120.04.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Page said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance.

“If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that they 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.”

December 2021

What we think

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on Employers to prepare a Risk Assessment and record in writing the significant findings of the risk assessement, where the Company employs five or more people. A risk assessment will not only identify the Hazards that exist but it will also highlight the control measures that need to be put in place. These controls are likely to list the equipment that will be used and the need for using Competent Operatives to complete the task. A good risk assessment will include much more and it must be shared with the employees completing the work.

Employers must also ensure Risk Assessments are regularly reviewed. As well as the passage of time, changes in work processes, the introduction of new technolgy and changes in personnel are all good reasons to review existing Risk Assessments.

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