A HOUSING association has been fined £20,000 after exposing employees to a serious health condition.

Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard how employees in the ground maintenance section of Calico Homes Limited were regularly exposed to vibration when using gardening equipment.

In August 2017, employee Peter Rigby ­— who previously worked in the department ­— received a diagnosis of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

The condition, caused by regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration, can result in numbness, pain and loss of strength in the hands causing distress and sleep disturbance, affecting the ability to do work safely.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Calico Homes had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the use of vibratory tools.

A HSE spokesman said the company was unaware of the extent to which employees were exposed to vibration and so had not implemented suitable control measures.

The housing association also failed to provide employees with suitable information, instruction, and training, the spokesman added.

Calico Homes, based at Croft Street, Burnley, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees relating to the risk associated with the use of vibration tools. They were also ordered to pay costs of £4,335.

HSE inspector Jennifer French said: “This was a case of the company failing to implement control measures to manage the risk of vibration. If they had done this, and provided adequate training to employees, then the affected employee would not have developed the condition.”

Steve Aggett, Calico Homes director of finance, said: “We care about the wellbeing of our 700 employees. For the past eight years, we have carried out comprehensive annual health assessments for all workers who use vibrating tools, which was how we identified a potential concern in this instance; however, we accept that we could have carried this out even more frequently. We now monitor the level of vibration exposure to our employees’ on a daily basis, and this shows that there is an extremely low level of risk. We have also implemented a comprehensive training program .”