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Tue September 21 2021

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Civils contractor fined for ignoring HAVS risks

23 Aug A West Yorkshire civil engineering and utilities contractor has been fined almost its entire annual profits for ignoring the risk to employees of using vibrating power tools.

Peter Duffy Ltd pleaded guilty to safety breaches after multiple employees were diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the company reported seven cases of HAVS between November 2016 and August 2018. All of the workers involved had been carrying out ground works involving vibrating tools. Many of them had been working in the industry for over 20 years.

The diagnosis of the workers’ conditions resulted from Peter Duffy bringing in a new occupational health consultant in 2016. Before the new company took over the contract, there was no suitable health surveillance in place to identify HAVS. The prosecution was brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Peter Duffy Ltd of Park View, Lofthouse, Wakefield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £3,919 in costs.

Last year the company made a profit of £46,000 after tax on turnover of £14.5m, although in previous (non-pandemic) years its numbers have been substantially higher.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley said: “The company should have undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify the level of vibration employees were exposed to throughout their working day and then put in place appropriate control measures. Furthermore, the company should have put in place suitable health surveillance to identify HAVS in their workforce”

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