Warranty

7-Year Warranty

We focus on customer care, providing great support, advice and assistance.

5 stars

Rated 5 Stars

Pulsar Instruments are highly recommended and trusted by our customers.

Fast Delivery

Fast Delivery

Worldwide delivery via UK & international couriers.

Secure Checkout

Secure Payment

Pay for your goods via our secure payment server, with a Credit or Debit card.

50 years in business

50+ Years in Business

We’re recognised and trusted noise measurement experts – Since 1969.

HAVS fines: can you afford not to measure hand-arm vibration?

Hand-arm vibration risks

HAVS fines: can you afford not to measure hand-arm vibration?

By: Laura Jenkins


The use of hand-held vibrating power tools for long periods of time and/or repeated and frequent use can lead to a permanent and painful injury called Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). HAVS includes injuries to the hands affecting blood vessels, nerves and joints such as carpal tunnel syndrome and Vibration White Finger (VWF). Employers who allow this to happen in their workplaces to their workers can face large HAVS fines.

Under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 employers must assess and identify measures to eliminate or reduce risks from exposures to harmful vibration, and where required, to provide appropriate training and ongoing health surveillance. If, as an employer, you do not do that then you not only put your employees at risk of a terrible disabling injury, but you also put your business at risk through financial penalties as well as the loss of reputation.

The table below highlights recent high profile successful prosecutions of companies of all sizes in the UK totalling over £2 million worth of imposed fines since 2016. In addition, the UK Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) research indicates that it costs a company between £7000 and £36,000 to process every £1000 paid out in compensation claims – this is in addition to the actual amount paid out for the claim and any legal fees incurred. 

The extent of the HAVS problem

In a 1999 study by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) [1] 4.8 million people worldwide were estimated to be at risk, of these around 1.7 million were expected to be exposed above the vibration Exposure Action Value (EAV) of 5 m/s2, and 1 million exposed above the Exposure Limit Value (ELV) 2.5 m/s2. In the UK alone, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that there are 2 million people are at risk of vibration exposure every day.

In fact, there are 600-900 cases reported to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Claims for Vibration White Finger (VWF) now represent 9% of all employers’ liability cases, and there were over 400 new Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit cases for it and carpal tunnel syndrome in 2017 [2]. Data for the UK in 2018 shows claims are currently falling which is good news.

Some of the first incidences of fines for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome in the UK workforce which formed the catalyst for changes to European legislation were:

  • £124K award to 7 British Coal Miners: sums ranged from £5k to £41k (1997)
  • £200k award to a tree surgeon employed by Liverpool City Council (1998)
  • £143k award to British Gasfitter: a total of £420k to 6 fitters (1998), and
  • £1.2M from North West Water to 8 former employees (2000).

Recent HAVS Fines shared in the UK media* (2015 to 2020)

YearCost of HAVS finesLegal costsDetails
2015£50KunknownLinde Heavy Truck Division, Merthyr Tydfil (now shut down): 21 workers
2016£250KunknownBalfour Beatty
2016£250k£18KThanet Council: 12 workers
2017£400k
(reduced to £150k)
£10,900 (paid to HSE)
Wrexham County Borough Council: 12 workers
2017£120kUnknownNewfield Fabrications: 2 workers
2017£100KUnknownCharter Housing Association: 6 employees affected
2017£120KUnknownBalfour Beatty
2018£50kUnknownDesign and Supply Ltd: 1 worker
2018£30kUnknownTai Calon Community Housing: several workers
2018£500kUnknownBalfour Beatty
2018£400K£39KNordam Europe Limited
2018£80K£25KBritish Airways Avionic Engineering Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations
2018£60K£4,864
Calderys UK fined for failing to control exposure to both vibration and silica for its workers
2019£20K£4,335Calico Homes Limited, Burnley
2019£90K£45KFaiveley Transport Tamworth Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act 1974.
2019£36,667£3,560Celtic Rock Services pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the HSW act (3 workers affected). The firm’s director also pleaded guilty to breaching s 37 of the HSW Act (12-week custodial sentence, suspended for one year, and a 12-week curfew).
2019£100K£28,673Dacorum Council: seven workers in Grounds Maintenance and Street Care team
2019£600K£13,995Places for People Homes has been fined after 5 employees developed vibration white finger from using vibrating power tools to carry out grounds maintenance tasks.
2020£300k£7,832AIM Engineering Ltd, 1 employee and lack of general HAVs management & surveillance.
2020£80K£5,300Onward Homes: four employees
2021£500K£94533 employees using vibrating tools at the company since 1989, were diagnosed with HAVS in 2016. Despite the diagnosis, 1 continued working with vibrating tools, without effective measures to control the risk.
2021£280K£12,294
Etex (Exteriors) UK Ltd (fine also includes breach of electrical safety)
2021
£40K£3,919Peter Duffy Ltd, seven cases of HAVS in their workers from groundwork using vibrating tools
2021£246k£15,788Frontier Plastics Limited (Chorley) failed to adequately assess the risks of using vibrating tools, provide information, instruction and training on the risks and place employees under health surveillance. Two employees suffering from HAVS.
2021£200k£11,120PSV Glass and Glazing were ordered to pay the fine, costs and additional surcharge to fund victim services of £170 after dozens of workers were affected.
2022£90k£14,061MTL Advanced Limited of Grange Lane, Rotherham, South Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after the were diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Total fines to date£4,967 Million

*data published on HAVS fines by various UK media outlets (print and online) as a matter of public record following UK court hearings.

How can Pulsar Instruments help?

Companies need to carry out a risk assessment in their workplace for the high vibration tools their staff operate to determine whether their staff are at risk and if so what actions they can take to reduce this risk. Furthermore, such a risk assessment should also identify whether employers need to provide health surveillance for any affected staff as well as training and information.

HAVS fines can you afford not to measure hand-arm vibration

Supply of Hand-Arm Vibration Meters

Pulsar Instruments provides a simple to use Hand-Arm Vibration meter, the Pulsar vB, which is perfect for this task. Simply attach it to your tools as close to the location of the users’ hands as possible, switch on a measure. In a few seconds, you will have data about the tools vibration magnitude and know how long a worker can use the tool for before they are at risk of harm.

If you’d rather not buy a HAV Meter, then why not ask us about hiring one for a week at a time.

Find out more about our range of HAVS meters

Consultancy

If you don’t feel confident or competent enough to carry out the risk assessment yourself then Pulsar Instruments can help. We charge a fixed fee for testing up to 15 power tools at a time and provide you with your risk assessment, identify any problem areas (including advising if health surveillance requirements and staff training is required) and providing a register of the vibration magnitude of your tools for you to keep up to date. Contact us for further information on our hand-arm vibration consultancy services. 

References

[1] Hand-transmitted vibration: Occupational exposure and their health effects in Great Britain. CRR232/1999. HSE Books ISBN 0 7176 2475 5.

[2] HSE Research and Consultancy Bulletin 25 July 2019. HSE.gov.uk

[3] HSE 2018 Statistics for industrial illness. http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/vibration/index.htm

Related news stories

Noise and vibration consultants
Noise and vibration consultants

08th Dec 2017

Help stop costly claims for noise and vibration damage Pulsar Instruments, a world recognised manufacturer and supplier of noise measurement equipment for Noise at Work, is pleased to announce its…

Read full story

Hand Arm Vibration Meter – the Pulsar vB
Hand Arm Vibration Meter – the Pulsar vB

06th Apr 2018

HAV you got vibration covered? We HAV Pulsar Instruments Plc April 2018 – Already well-known worldwide for their reliable and robust noise measurement products, Pulsar Instruments is extending their current…

Read full story

HAVS – occupational hand arm vibration
HAVS – occupational hand arm vibration

11th Jul 2018

Overexposure to vibration from power tools, machinery and vehicles can impact the human body in several ways and cause permanent damage. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates there…

Read full story