Health and Safety Executive said firm had failed to protect workers from “well known risk”
Balfour Beatty has been fined £500,000 after failing to “adequately control” the risk to some of its workers of hand-arm vibration.
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd was fined £500,000 after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that workers at the company were exposed to hand-arm vibration between 2002 and 2011 which put them at risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome.
Sheffield Crown Court heard that workers at the company’s sites were regularly exposed to hand-arm vibration while operating hand-held power tools such as hydraulic breakers and floor saws. An investigation carried out by HSE found that the company failed in its legal duty to ensure the risks to workers who used these tools was kept to as low a level as reasonably practicable.
The HSE said Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd failed to assess the risk to workers’ health, failed to put in place and monitor suitable risk control measures and failed to put in place a suitable system of health surveillance.
The company also failed to report to the enforcing authorities a significant number of cases of employees diagnosed with HAVS as was legally required.
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd of Thorncliffe Park, Chapeltown, Sheffield pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 (1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995. These failings occurred between 2002 and 2011. The company was fined £500,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £195,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Christine Mellor said: “This case was about failing to protect workers. Exposure to hand-arm vibration is a well-known risk which Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd. failed to adequately control.
“The company failed to heed warnings. Early health surveillance detected ill health but still this was not acted upon to prevent on-going exposure.
“This is a particularly serious case because of the extent and duration of failures. The breaches were repeated over several years and this resulted in persistent poor compliance.”
Balfour Beatty said: “The shortcomings in processes identified in this case took place many years ago and were addressed prior to the start of the investigation by the HSE.