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Examples of enforcement - Improvement notices

Poor working at height and manual handling practices at an aircraft maintenance company

Following a report of an accident at an aircraft maintenance firm HSE’s investigation revealed that current standard practice for working at height was not being carried out. Despite concern from employees the firm was still using traditional access methods (ladders and stepladders) instead of access platforms purpose built for the aircraft type. In addition no consideration had been given to a range of manual handling issues associated with the removal of aircraft parts such as the heavy batteries. It was clear the company was not fully aware of the risks or of current standards & guidance.


The company was served with Improvement Notices for both fall from height and manual handling issues, which included direct involvement by the managing director. Following the notices the firm began to make major changes costing many thousands of pounds and which will result in major changes to working practices and procedures and a substantial lowering of the risks for workers from both fall from height and manual handling.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) prosecution at a motor company

An employee of a motor company suffered a Hand Arm Vibration injury (HAVS) having used a range of vibrating tools over a 17 year period. The individual was diagnosed with early stage vibration white finger (VWF) approximately 4 years earlier and despite medical warnings his bodyshop workload increased along with his usage of vibrating machines and as a consequence his condition deteriorated. Within two years he was diagnosed as having HAVS Stage 3 in both hands and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in both wrists.

Two Improvement Notices had been issued to the company in 2004, neither of which had been contested. A short while before the investigation process commenced the body shop closed. Subsequent tests from the tools used by the employee revealed that the employee’s daily usage had been around double (and often higher) the recommended exposure level set by the HSE.


The investigation led to a successful HSE prosecution. The company was fined £10,000 with costs of £ 28,000. The employee was awarded a large 5 figure settlement at an earlier civil hearing. The case was given significant media coverage.

Updated 2009-02-06