Two construction firms fined for injuring workers

Two construction companies based in Swadlincote in Derbyshire has been fined after unsafe working practices caused long-term injuries to their workers.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was first alerted to the problems when there were separate reports concerning cases of carpel tunnel syndrome and hand arm vibration syndrome.

If your company employs staff to work in potentially hazardous areas, such as unfinished construction sites, or to use dangerous equipment, it is important that the proper precautions are in place to reduce the risk of injury. As part of these precautions, you should ensure you have the appropriate employers' liability insurance to cover the type of work being completed.

The HSE soon discovered that employees at Sandvik Mining and Construction Limited and Sandvik Construction Mobile Crushers and Screeners Limited were regularly exposed to machinery that caused hand arm vibration, including a range of tools used to assemble and service a variety of crushers and screeners employed by the two construction companies.

During their inspections, the HSE found out that workers were regularly exposed to these types of stress. However, both companies had made scant attempt to mitigate the risks, carry out risk assessments or make reasonable estimates regarding workers being exposed the hand arm vibration.

Both companies pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Derby Crown Court. Sandvik Mining and Construction Limited was subsequently fined £12,000 and told to pay costs of £8,246 while Sandvik Construction Mobile Crushers and Screeners Limited was fined £280,000 and also told to pay court costs of £8,246.

After sentencing had taken place, HSE inspector Edward Walker said: “There is a well-known health risk associated with exposure to hand arm vibration, and it is important that measures are put in place to manage the risk. Exposure to hand arm vibration can cause debilitating effects, which could have been avoided.”