Construction industry faces new legislation

Article date: 25 July 2003

Construction industry managers need to act now to protectthemselves against new breeds of occupational disease claims, warnsNorwich Union Risk Services.

New regulations are being introduced because of the EU Directiveon Physical Agents (Vibration) will make it easier for employees tosue for damages.

The proposed regulations, which go out for consultation thismonth will require employers to identify where workers are at riskfrom vibration white finger – a condition that can result innerve and muscle damage and bone and joint disorders – andtake active steps to reduce their exposure to a minimum level.Failure to comply can result in criminal prosecutions.

Teresa Budworth, training and consultancy manager at NorwichUnion Risk Services, said: “Construction industry managersneed to act now – users of road breakers and other vibrationtools are most at risk.

“Waiting until this directive becomes law may be too lateas the cost of legal action could put smaller construction firmsout of business. Employees who develop vibration white finger canfind themselves permanently disabled. They can already sue theiremployer for negligence. The new regulations will simply make iteasier for a civil action to be brought by spelling out exactlywhat is expected of the employer.

“Work-related injuries are an area that the courts aretaking increasingly seriously. In a test case in 1997, the HighCourt awarded more than £100,000 to miners suffering from vibrationwhite finger.

Choosing work equipment to minimise vibration, implementing jobrotation, carrying out user training and regularly maintainingpower tools are just some of the steps we’d adviseconstruction companies to take.”

For more information on how to conduct a risk assessment,contact the Norwich Union Risk Services team on 0500 55 99 77.


For further information, please contact: Alison Owen orDebbie Wells at Staniforth on 0161 274 0100 or David Ross atNorwich Union on 08703 66 68 65/07786 526350.

Notes to editors

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer with a marketshare of around 16 per cent and is more than 1.5 times the size ofits nearest rival. It is also the largest personal linesinsurer.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
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For all life & pensions media enquiries 08703 66 68 73 Forall other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

  • Norwich Union Risk Services is the division of Norwich Uniondedicated to providing training and consultancy services on arange of health, safety and environmental issues within theworkplace.
  • Services are tailored to meet each client’s specificrequirements.
  • Clients include numerous FTSE 100 listed companies, majorinsurers and local authorities including police, fire andambulance services.

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