Last reviewed 18 May 2022

After several employees carrying out work in the highways department developed a debilitating nerve condition, as a result of failure to control exposure to vibration, Lancashire County Council found itself in court.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that, in February 2019, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received a RIDDOR report from Lancashire County Council, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, relating to the diagnosis of a case of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

An improvement notice was served to the council in July 2019 requiring it to improve control of HAVS. However, subsequent to this, a further 10 cases of vibration-related ill-health, unrelated to the RIDDOR report, were uncovered and reported late.

Four more reports were also filed, but these were on time.

The resulting HSE investigation found that there had been insufficient supervision and monitoring by the local authority to ensure that operatives accurately recorded their levels of exposure to vibration.

Regular use of vibrating tools causes the painful and disabling disorder which, in this case, left the employees with nerve damage to the hands and arms, making everyday tasks and leisure activities difficult or impossible.

HSE also reported that risk assessments were not adequate for controlling the amount of exposure of operatives, and practices had not been implemented to prevent overexposure. Had these measures been in place, the total of 15 reported HAVs incidences of ill-health could have been prevented.

It was also found that the council had failed to send reports of the various diagnoses to HSE without delay as required under the RIDDOR regulations.

Lancashire County Council were found guilty to breaches of ss.2 (1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and Regulation 8 of the RIDDOR Regulations 2013. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,366,78.