The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a health screening company for using unqualified staff to test workers for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
Audio Medical Services Ltd, was employed by several companies across the UK to carry out medical screening on their workers for a period of four years. It has since been discovered that Audio Medical Services Ltd did not refer workers to occupational health doctors when they displayed symptoms of HAVS and failed to provide employers with guidance on how to prevent workers’ symptoms deteriorating. Staff employed by Audio Medical Services Ltd to tests for HAVS had received no occupational health training.
HAVS, which is also known as Vibration White Finger, is caused by working with vibrating tools. Symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling of the fingers, a reduced sense of touch and increased sensitivity to cold temperatures with fingers sometimes turning white.
However HAVS can be prevented and permanent damage can be avoided if employees refrain from using vibrating tools as soon as symptoms are identified.
In spite of this, the HSE found that Audio Medical Services Ltd had not referred workers to a doctor once symptoms were displayed. Their employers were not informed of these symptoms and the workers continued to be exposed to vibrating tools. This put them at risk of permanent damage.
Audio Medical Services Ltd and their director pled guilty to an offence under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Section 3 (1) provides that employers should ensure that persons who are not employed by them, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
The company was fined £3,200 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000. Their managing director was also fined £700.