A COMPANY was fined £246,000 after two of its employees went on to suffer “severe and life-altering” stages of a potentially agonising medical condition.

Frontier Plastics Ltd was brought before the courts by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over failings at its Pontllanfraith site at Newbridge Road Industrial Estate.

The firm, who manufacture and sell medical devices for the healthcare industry, neglected to look after the welfare of Philip Heath and Malcolm Matthews.

Newport Magistrates’ Court heard how the duo have subsequently been diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).


They worked for long periods of time using vibrating tools without suitable controls to reduce the risks.

They would use tools like strimmers, hedge cutters, grinders, drills and linishers.

The HSE investigation found that, before August 2019, the company failed to adequately assess the risks involved.

They also did not put in place measures to control the risk, provide suitable information, instruction and training on the risks to employees and place them under suitable health surveillance to monitor their condition.

Frontier Plastics, a subsidiary of Verna Group International Ltd, of Western Avenue, Chorley, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to a Health and Safety at Work Act breach.

As well as being fined £246,000, they were ordered to pay £15,648 costs and a £120 surcharge.

Speaking outside the court, HSE inspector Sian Donne said: “This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of managing exposure to vibration.

“HAVS is a serious, disabling and permanent condition.

“If the company had put in place suitable controls to reduce exposure and health surveillance to monitor workers’ health, then the employees’ condition would not have developed to a severe and life-altering stage.”

HAVS can cause vibration white finger, a permanent and painful numbness and tingling in the hands and arms, also painful joints and muscle weakening.

According to the NHS: “HAVS can be painful and cannot be cured, it can however be prevented.”