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Sandesh Singh secures non-causative disposals in two HAVS prosecutions

Sandesh Singh, instructed by Claire Bennett of DWF, has secured non-causative disposals in two HSE prosecutions concerning Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).

Both cases involved allegations that manufacturing companies had failed to assess and manage the risks associated with the use of vibrating equipment over a period of years.

In both cases, occupational health physicians engaged by the companies had made diagnoses of HAVS for a number of employees.

In addition, RIDDOR reports were submitted to the HSE on the basis that the employees concerned had HAVS and this had been confirmed through health surveillance.

The HSE alleged in both cases that the offences were a significant cause of harm in respect of nine employees – seven in one case and two in the other.

Following service of expert evidence and legal argument, the HSE teams in both cases were forced to concede that causation of harm could not be established to the criminal standard of proof (despite the health surveillance evidence and RIDDOR reports).

As a result, significantly lower fines were imposed on both companies.

For example, in the second case which concerned a ‘large’ organisation, the HSE initially argued for a starting point of £2.4 million before credit for a guilty plea (on the basis of Harm Category 2, moving up to Harm Category 1 due to causation).

The company was ultimately fined £300,000 before credit (on the basis of Harm Category 3, with no uplift for causation).


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