Factory Occupational Health Breaches Eventually Lead to Fines (UK)

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

Section 21 of the Act covers Improvement Notices.

Section 37 covers director culpability.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard 27 November about:
(A) failure to test ventilation systems for extracting potentially harmful wood dust
(B) failure to provide suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE), controls or any health surveillance for employees working with hazardous spray paints
(C) failure to control noise exposure
(D) failure to provide adequate information, training and supervision to protect workers from hazards, including inhaling chemicals such as isocyanate during spraying processes.

Two Improvement Notices had been served requiring action to be taken to stop health and safety from being compromised, and to protect workers undertaking hazardous activities. However, a follow up inspection in April revealed both were ignored. The court was told that little had changed and that there were still serious faults.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Saif Deen said:

“Employers have a duty to protect their workers, but this company carried out high risk activities, such as paint spraying and work that exposed employees to prolonged, high levels of noise, with disregard for their health and safety. The seriousness of these breaches was reflected in the Improvement Notices issued, which both the company and Stephen Morrison ignored. They failed to address the fact that workers were placed at unnecessary risk because of the inadequate RPE provisions, and the complete lack of health surveillance. They were being exposed to potentially harmful sprays and noise, and yet the company had no means of monitoring whether it was causing harm. Sunbeam Wood Works, under the lead of Mr Morrison, displayed poor performance over the period of our investigation. HSE will not hesitate to take action against duty holders who shirk their responsibilities in this way.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

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