hse_logoUK: Dawsonrentals has been fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs after a worker was trapped underneath a falling cold store panel and others developed hand-arm vibration syndrome.

An agency worker, was struck by a section of portable cold store which toppled whilst being dismantled by Dawsonrentals Portable Cold Storage Ltd of Huthwaite, Nottinghamshire, on October 26, 2010.

Kevin Rodgers, from Mansfield, was trapped under an L-shaped section of a cold store which was surplus to requirements, whilst cutting up smaller sections of the cold store walls, which had already been removed.

Nottingham Crown Court heard Mr Rodgers suffered four broken bones in his right foot, and was off work for a number of months.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident found the dismantling process had not been properly risk assessed by the company. There was inadequate training for workers carrying out this task, and insufficient supervision of their work.

A separate investigation into the company was conducted after several employees were reported to be suffering from various stages of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) after working for the company.

HAVS can develop from the over-use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health. This can include painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

One case was shown to be so severe that the worker was unable to do his job any longer.

HSE’s investigation identified that workers were using power tools for significant periods of time. The company failed to adequately assess the risk to employees’ health from the use of vibrating tools over a number of years. Although the issue of hand-arm vibration had been raised since 2005, it was not until the ill health was identified in November 2011 that they introduced adequate controls, including monitoring and restricting the use of specific tools.