Joseph Beale had worked for Bridgend County Borough Council for more than ten years, using a variety of machinery including hedge cutters, mowers and strimmers. During this time he was not warned about the potential injuries he could face from the use of such tools. He was also not provided with any protective clothing, such as anti-vibration gloves.
After bringing a personal injury claim against the Council, Mr Beale was awarded £3,000 in compensation.
HAVS affects the muscles, nerves, joints and blood vessels of the hands, arms and wrists. Fingertips may become numb, the fingers can feel cold and there may be a whitening of the skin. The symptoms often prevent sufferers from sleeping, as well as making it difficult for them to feel and handle both small and heavy objects.
The Health and Safety Executive estimates that as many as five million UK workers are potentially at risk of developing HAVS, with two million of these exposed to vibration levels that put them at clear risk of suffering permanent health effects.
Employers have a duty under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 to assess the vibration risk to employees and to make them aware of the potential dangers associated with the use of vibrating tools over extended periods. They also have a duty to put in place safe working practices to help employees avoid injury.