Wheel Manufacturer Sanctioned Over Employee Vibration Injury

In mid-March 2023 the Health and Safety Executive handed down a financial sanction to a wheel-making enterprise after a member of the workforce sustained vibration injuries whilst using work-related tools. Due to the seriousness of the incident, the injuries sustained, the seeming express intention of the industry regulator to make an example of the business and hammer home the point it imposed a financial sanction in excess of one-hundred-thousand pounds.  

What Happened In The Case?

The manufacturer in the case made wheels for the vehicle sector. However the Health and Safety Executive probed into the business’ working practices in the working environment from before June 2019 it made a number of disturbing discoveries, it observed that the wheel making organisation seemed on the evidence to have: 

  • neglected in its duty to evaluate the likelihood of members of the workforce from sustaining injuries from the use of work-related equipment which was had a propensity to vibrate and cause related injuries
  • seemingly ignored the legal requirement to mitigate the likelihood of members of the workforce being exposed to vibrating machinery   
  • not taken any steps to educate its members of the workforce on the operation of the equipment in connection with the likelihood of vibration injuries and 
  • had failed to comply with its responsibilities to implement a control mechanism to oversee the health of the members of the workforce 

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

After it carried out its investigation the industry regulator, the Health and Safety Executive was scathing of the behaviour seemingly exhibited by the maker of wheels. It observed that there was evidence presented which seemed to suggest that the business at the centre of proceedings had breached section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and imposed a substantial financial sanction. This places legal obligations upon organisations to do all they reasonably can do to prevent members of the audience from sustaining injuries of this nature. In this regard businesses need to be acting to protect the wellbeing, safety and health of colleagues who are working under its inherent jurisdiction. Industry Regulator, the Health and Safety Executive commented by guiding such businesses on how to manage a similar situation as what happened in this case, it found that:
-    in a situation whereby there is a likelihood that members of the workforce may sustain a vibration-related injury attributable to work-related activities, the business should be remembering that they are under legal obligations to review the tasks they are asking their staff to do before progressing to think about places in the working environment where they can potentially mitigate the chance that members of the workforce being put at risk of being open to injury caused by vibration
 such persons who hold this responsibility for the welfare of members of the workforce in their inherent jurisdiction need to strongly consider implementing the following steps to mitigate, reduce and limit the risk of such incidents from taking place in future times by: 

  • assessing the likelihood of injuries taking place when members of the workforce are using vibration equipment
  • taking preventative action to limit the chances of colleagues being open to vibration whilst carrying out the day-to-day work-related-activities
  • communicate with colleagues operating in the workplace with information pertaining to the safe operating of such machinery in the workplace
  • in this regard it should provide coaching to colleagues  
  • emaintain a culture of safe working practices by selecting safe equipment and
  • provide oversight in terms of colleague health and safety.   

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