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Fri December 13 2019

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Property firm fined £600k for ignoring HAVS risk

14 Nov A major property manager has been fined £600,000 after five employees developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

Excessive use of vibrating power tools can trigger a debilitating condition also known as whitefinger
Excessive use of vibrating power tools can trigger a debilitating condition also known as whitefinger

Aylesbury Crown Court heard this week that between 2009 and 2014 five employees of Places for People Homes Limited used vibrating powered tools to carry out grounds maintenance tasks at sites in Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Hull.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to assess or manage the risks associated with vibrating tools. It also failed to provide suitable training or health surveillance for its maintenance workers and failed to maintain and replace tools, which increased vibration levels.

Places for People Group manages more than 197,000 homes of all tenures. It also operates 127 leisure facilities and works in 390 local authority areas delivering a range of services.

Places for People Homes is the group’s property and neighbourhood management arm, which is responsible for around 40,000 homes across England and Wales.

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Places for People Homes Limited of Cheapside, London pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,995.06

HSE inspector Andrew McGill said after the hearing: “Companies must manage the risks associated with vibrating tools. Hand arm vibration can be a significant health risk wherever powered hand tools are used for significant lengths of time.

“HAVS is preventable, but once the damage is done it is permanent. Damage from HAVS can include the inability to do fine work and cold can trigger painful finger blanching attacks. Health surveillance is vital to detect and respond to early signs of damage.”

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