Negligent exposures to hand-transmitted vibration
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 81, (5), . (doi:10.1007/s00420-007-0251-7).
Objectives: If the negligence of an employer results in the disability in an employee, the employer is responsible, in whole or in part, for the disability. The employer is wholly responsible when the worker would not have developed the disability if the employer had taken all reasonable preventative measures. The employer is only partly responsible if the worker would probably have developed some disability even if the employer had taken all reasonable precautions. The employer’s responsibility may be estimated from the difference between the actual disability of the worker and the disability that the worker would have suffered if the employer had taken all reasonable preventative measures. This paper considers alternative ways of apportioning negligent and non-negligent exposures to hand-transmitted vibration.
Results: The equivalent daily vibration exposure, A(8), used in current EU Directives is shown to be unsuitable for distinguishing between the consequences of negligent and non-negligent exposures because the risks of developing a disorder from hand-transmitted vibration also depend on the years of exposure. Furthermore, daily exposures take no account of individual susceptibility or the practicality of reducing exposure. The consequences of employer negligence may be estimated from the delay in the onset and progression of disorder that would have been achieved if the employer had acted reasonably, such as by reducing vibration magnitude and exposure duration to the minimum that was reasonably achievable in the circumstances. This seems to be fair and reasonable for both employers and employees and indicates the consequences of negligence—the period of the worker’s life with disease as a result of negligence and the period for which their employment opportunities may be restricted as a result of the onset of the disorder due to negligence.
Conclusions: The effects of negligence may be estimated from the delay in the onset of disease or disability that would have occurred if the employer had behaved reasonably. This definition of negligence encourages employers to reduce risks to the lowest reasonably practical level, consistent with EU Directives.
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