Thanet Council admits health and safety breaches over ‘white finger’ syndrome

The council pleads guilty to two out of four charges over health and safety failings amongst workers


Thanet District Council has admitted at Canterbury Crown Court this week, that they failed to adhere to health and safety regulations over ‘white finger’ syndrome. The council pleaded guilty to two of four charges which involved a number of offences dating as far back as 2005 and up to 2014.

The court hearing has now been postponed until November, whilst the Health and Safety Executive decide whether to accept the council’s plea, or push for a trial relating to the other two charges.

Thanet Council admits health and safety breaches over 'white finger' syndrome

A worker using a lawn mower © Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The court heard that all charges were associated with workers at the Dane Park Depot, around 40 in total and are connected to their use of lawnmowers and grave digging equipment, plus other specialist machinery.

The council admitted to the charge of breaching the ‘Control of Vibration at Work Regulations’, meaning the council failed to reduce the amount of exposure to vibration for their employees.

‘Vibration white finger’ (VWF), also called ‘hand-arm vibration syndrome’ (HAVS), or ‘dead finger’, is a secondary form of the industrial injury known as ‘Raynaud’s syndrome’, which can be triggered through continual use of hand-held vibrating machinery and equipment.

Prosecutor, Mr Richard Beyne stated that since 2005 and up until 2014 when a report was made, some of the workers were diagnosed with ‘white finger’, or some form of the syndrome.

Mr Beyne added: “This was a systematic failure by the council to protect the interests of their workers during that period. Nothing was done in relation to training or risk assessment.”

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