Wirral Council fined £25,000 after health and safety breach left workers with debilitating condition

Wirral Globe: Wirral Council fined £25,000 after health and safety breach Wirral Council fined £25,000 after health and safety breach

WIRRAL Council has been fined £25,000 plus £9,000 court costs after employees were diagnosed with a debilitating condition that has left them with ongoing problems with their hands.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the council after 29 workers in the parks and leisure department were affected by “Hand Arm Vibration” syndrome.

One of the workers, Nick Bower, began noticing problems with his hands after several years working as head green keeper at Hoylake Golf Course, where he regularly worked with strimmers and mowers.

The 47-year-old was diagnosed with the syndrome in 2009, and suffers dexterity problems and intense pain in his hands during cold weather.

Mr Bower has since changed jobs and is now undertaking other duties for the authority that do not involve working with vibrating machinery.

He is on permanent medication to help with blood flow to his hands and nerve damage.

Wirral Magistrates’ Court heard today Mr Bower is one of 29 council employees  to have developed the condition between July, 2005 and December, 2009.

Hand Arm Vibration syndrome results in poor grip, numbness, tingling and acute sensitivity to cold resulting in pain.

Once the condition has developed, reducing or eliminating exposure to vibrating tools will prevent it from getting worse, but the damage is largely irreversible.

The council workers’ duties included grass, hedge and tree cutting, primarily using vibrating equipment.

A HSE investigation showed the council did not properly assess the risks they faced of using such equipment or implement suitable control measures, such as limiting exposure to the tools or providing alternatives.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, of Brighton Street in Wallasey, was fined a total of £25,000 and ordered to pay £9,417 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

After the hearing, Mr Bower said in a statement from the HSE: “Before I was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration syndrome, I would often use vibrating machinery for long periods of time in the course of my job.

“When I began noticing symptoms and went to the doctor, he immediately asked what I did for a living and made the connection.

“I still have problems with loss of feeling and find it difficult to do everyday tasks."

Christina Goddard, investigating inspector for HSE, said: “Wirral Council failed to take action to prevent damage caused by vibrating tools, with the result that 29 workers now suffer from a debilitating condition.

“The council should have limited the amount of time workers spent using vibrating equipment or provided alternative tools.

"If appropriate action had been taken then the workers’ condition could have been prevented.”

Comments (8)

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4:07pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Hugo1008 says...

What were the supervisors and managers doing, the rules and regulations in connection with use of Vibrating Equipment are not new they have been in effect for many years now.

White Finger and RSI and HAV Syndrome are common in all forms of industry that require operatives to use such equipment.

Yet another example of ill informed, ignorant management at many levels in Wirral Borough Council.
What were the supervisors and managers doing, the rules and regulations in connection with use of Vibrating Equipment are not new they have been in effect for many years now. White Finger and RSI and HAV Syndrome are common in all forms of industry that require operatives to use such equipment. Yet another example of ill informed, ignorant management at many levels in Wirral Borough Council. Hugo1008
  • Score: 0

10:34pm Tue 15 Jan 13

Jimrob says...

When reading the first paragraph of this story I had assumed that it might be something about Senior Officers getting their hands stuck in the till...... but reading on......

I find it is YET ANOTHER STORY about the "compensation culture" that is gripping the whole country!!!

I have one message for those fortunate people that will now receive payouts funded from Council Tax Payers across Wirral.

"Don't you dare start complaining when you have lost your jobs because of Council Cut-Backs through lack of funds"
When reading the first paragraph of this story I had assumed that it might be something about Senior Officers getting their hands stuck in the till...... but reading on...... I find it is YET ANOTHER STORY about the "compensation culture" that is gripping the whole country!!! I have one message for those fortunate people that will now receive payouts funded from Council Tax Payers across Wirral. "Don't you dare start complaining when you have lost your jobs because of Council Cut-Backs through lack of funds" Jimrob
  • Score: 0

12:00am Wed 16 Jan 13

PaulCa says...

I have this condition courtesy of Manweb.

"Compensation culture" this is not. If you use vibrating tools on a regular basis and they are not dampened or your time using them limited, you will develop the condition, and the employer is fully responsible for it under the H&SW Act 1974.

The condition 'vibration white finger' was first recognised I in 1862 - 151 years should be ample warning for even the likes of abusive Wirral Council to put measures in to prevent this condition developing. After all, they keep reminding us their 'most important asset' is their staff.

But what would you expect from a gang of chancers and power abusers, where the rot set in decades ago? Good luck to the exploited workers involved who now have to suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. While pen pushers at the top carry on trousering obscene salaries, staying in fine fettle and retiring early.

If they haven't done it yet the men should also be seeking rightful compensation for the employer's wilful negligence.

My payout in 2004 was £21,000 - I imagine this may be around the £30,000+ mark now, so a total of around £900,000 for everyone affected.

It beggars belief that they were actually doing this to their staff and pleaded guilty. The condition has been recognised as harmful and debilitating since the early 1970s.

Do they live in a bubble?
I have this condition courtesy of Manweb. "Compensation culture" this is not. If you use vibrating tools on a regular basis and they are not dampened or your time using them limited, you will develop the condition, and the employer is fully responsible for it under the H&SW Act 1974. The condition 'vibration white finger' was first recognised I in 1862 - 151 years should be ample warning for even the likes of abusive Wirral Council to put measures in to prevent this condition developing. After all, they keep reminding us their 'most important asset' is their staff. But what would you expect from a gang of chancers and power abusers, where the rot set in decades ago? Good luck to the exploited workers involved who now have to suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives. While pen pushers at the top carry on trousering obscene salaries, staying in fine fettle and retiring early. If they haven't done it yet the men should also be seeking rightful compensation for the employer's wilful negligence. My payout in 2004 was £21,000 - I imagine this may be around the £30,000+ mark now, so a total of around £900,000 for everyone affected. It beggars belief that they were actually doing this to their staff and pleaded guilty. The condition has been recognised as harmful and debilitating since the early 1970s. Do they live in a bubble? PaulCa
  • Score: 0

8:12pm Wed 16 Jan 13

bigmick1 says...

After reading the comments under this article I really couldn't believe the stupidity of the things a certain someone wrote, namely jimrob.

As any citizen of Wirral would know, especially a tax payer, authorities at ANY level have INSURANCE, that's what its for moron. I happen to know of cases well before this where neglect caused employees such injuries as HAVS aka Vibration White Finger, an irriversable painful condition
In fact most coal minors that are still alive have the very same condition and are still being awarded the RIGHT compensation.

Laws came into effect many years ago along side the HSE to protect employees and employers alike.

Cuts across all councils are coming from central government, i suppose your a conservative hey jimrob!!!!! I bet you'll be very disappointed when your services STOP that your precious council TAX is paying for, how about when they start charging you for them on top of that to.

I agree must be some bubble they live in.
After reading the comments under this article I really couldn't believe the stupidity of the things a certain someone wrote, namely jimrob. As any citizen of Wirral would know, especially a tax payer, authorities at ANY level have INSURANCE, that's what its for moron. I happen to know of cases well before this where neglect caused employees such injuries as HAVS aka Vibration White Finger, an irriversable painful condition In fact most coal minors that are still alive have the very same condition and are still being awarded the RIGHT compensation. Laws came into effect many years ago along side the HSE to protect employees and employers alike. Cuts across all councils are coming from central government, i suppose your a conservative hey jimrob!!!!! I bet you'll be very disappointed when your services STOP that your precious council TAX is paying for, how about when they start charging you for them on top of that to. I agree must be some bubble they live in. bigmick1
  • Score: 0

8:18pm Wed 16 Jan 13

shipshape23 says...

What a moronic string of rubbish from "Jimrob". Firstly I would imagine that any compensation would originate from the Council's insurance and not from the council tax payers. Secondly, I would also guess that such compensation would not fairly cover a lifetime affliction.
Thirdly, Employer negligence has further disadvantaged these people in the job market if they were to lose their jobs. Please engage brain before commenting !!
What a moronic string of rubbish from "Jimrob". Firstly I would imagine that any compensation would originate from the Council's insurance and not from the council tax payers. Secondly, I would also guess that such compensation would not fairly cover a lifetime affliction. Thirdly, Employer negligence has further disadvantaged these people in the job market if they were to lose their jobs. Please engage brain before commenting !! shipshape23
  • Score: 0

10:43pm Wed 16 Jan 13

Jimrob says...

Firstly.

On reading up on Vibration White Finger, I believe I owe PaulCa and others a heart felt apology. I had no idea how serious a condition it is.

Secondly,

No, I am not a Conservative, or a moron for that matter and unlike some, I am perfectly prepared to apologize when there is a need to do so.

And thirdly,

As far as I am aware, the only "Services" that I actually use, that my Council Tax pays for, is the refuse collection. I love the way some people blame certain parties for certain cuts. WAKE UP!!!!!
All three mainstream parties are controlled by the same people who have NO particular party affiliation.
Firstly. On reading up on Vibration White Finger, I believe I owe PaulCa and others a heart felt apology. I had no idea how serious a condition it is. Secondly, No, I am not a Conservative, or a moron for that matter and unlike some, I am perfectly prepared to apologize when there is a need to do so. And thirdly, As far as I am aware, the only "Services" that I actually use, that my Council Tax pays for, is the refuse collection. I love the way some people blame certain parties for certain cuts. WAKE UP!!!!! All three mainstream parties are controlled by the same people who have NO particular party affiliation. Jimrob
  • Score: 0

7:28am Thu 17 Jan 13

bigmick1 says...

Jimrob it's good to see you've researched, apologies for my earlier statement to you, let's still hope unemployment doesn't rise on Wirral hey.

Ps Wirral leaks exposes plans for charging a charge for your green bin to be emptied and the brown bin might go all together.
Jimrob it's good to see you've researched, apologies for my earlier statement to you, let's still hope unemployment doesn't rise on Wirral hey. Ps Wirral leaks exposes plans for charging a charge for your green bin to be emptied and the brown bin might go all together. bigmick1
  • Score: 0

10:05pm Thu 17 Jan 13

Positive thinker says...

Is it a case of the compensation culture?
Is it a case of the compensation culture? Positive thinker
  • Score: 0

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