Building materials giant fined £280,000
Buildings materials manufacturer Etex has been sentenced after a worker was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and an electrician sustained burns in a separate incident.
An HSE investigation established that he had been using percussive tooling and other equipment where he was regularly exposed to vibration above the recommended limit.
A health assessment in 2012 had identified the symptoms of HAVS, recommending the employee was referred to a physician for detailed medical examination. But this did not happen until 2016 when the employee was diagnosed with a serious irreversible health condition.
The employees were trained electricians but neither had the competence to work on the switchgear and they were not provided with any circuit diagrams, drawings or an instruction manual. Neither were there any job specific risk assessments or safe systems of work in place.
The two employees isolated all the switches on the right-hand bank of the panel, which was supplying electricity to production machinery, and assumed that this would render the back of that bank of switches safe.
But while working on the last cable connection, the tool used by one employee met a live bus bar terminating support strip. This caused a flash, which resulted in electrical burns.
Etex (Exteriors) UK Ltd of Burton-on-Trent pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £282,100 and ordered to pay costs of £12,294.
HSE said, “This company failed to implement and maintain a system that would suitably monitor the recorded results of vibration data and also failed to ensure that those undertaking electrical work were suitably competent and given the right information to complete tasks safely."