The Workers Union is calling for a major investment in worker safety protocols.
The announcement comes after several high-profile lapses publicised in recent weeks.
In a case heard at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, for example, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that members of staff working for Peter Duffy Ltd were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS). Hand Arm Vibration is a condition that can develop if workers are exposed to regular use of power tools. Symptoms include swollen, painful joints, numbness and muscle weakness.
The court heard that Peter Duffy Ltd reported seven cases of HAV between November 2016 and August 2018. All of the affected workers had been engaged in using vibrating tools on groundworks.
HSE’s investigation revealed that the company replaced its old occupational health provider in 2016. The diagnosis of HAV was made as a consequence of this change. Before the new company’s services became available, there was no appropriate occupational health surveillance in place to identify HAV.
Peter Duffy Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and were subsequently fined £40,000, with a further order to pay £3,919 in costs.
Chris Tilley, and inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, 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.’
The Workers Union on Health and Safety at Work
It seems strange that 2021 should witness this organisation writing articles about health and safety at work. The more optimistic amongst us thought that the march of technology and easy availability of information would turn the 21st century into a paradise of agreeable working conditions.
Alas, this is not the case. We still deal with many cases of workers who’ve been provided with little in the way of safety training or provision. These are the same workers who endure their employers’ cavalier attitude towards keeping them safe at work.
This is clearly not acceptable.
Most of us fully acknowledge that our working lives will, at times, be fraught with difficulty. Work load, family pressures and deadlines can all make for additional stressors. How sad, then, that many working people also have to contend with dangerous working conditions.
This has to stop. There is so much information out there to help company chiefs get their houses in order, that most personal injuries are avoidable tragedies.
The COVID fall-out has made getting on top this even more important. There are no hiding places – and no excuses.
The Workers Union – fighting for social justice, fighting for you