Aerospace firm fined for health and safety breaches

An aerospace company based on the Isle of Wight has been fined thousands of pounds after it was found to have breached health and safety rules and failed to prevent staff from suffering permanent nerve damage.

GKN Aerospace, in East Cowes, apparently identified back in 2011 that members of staff were having problems using high vibration tools, but failed to address the problems, re-assess the risks associated with these kinds of tools or put new controls in place to assess workers.

This has left five workers with permanent hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), after they used high vibration equipment for around six years without the proper protection. HAVs cause long-term circulation damage to hands, making them dead and white in the cold and extremely painful when they warm up. People with HAVS also lack grip and find it difficult to carry out tasks requiring dexterity.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stepped in after GKN reported the problems and was given a timeframe to make improvements. When it was found that the company had failed to comply with regulations covering the use of vibrating tools before the deadline given, the decision was made to prosecute. GKN Aerospace was fined £26,800 and was ordered to pay court costs of £8,256.