Recycling Firm Fails to Heed HSE Warnings

Company fined after ‘multiple safety failings’ were found

Posted on: 04/10/2017   By: Lee Rance

A Northamptonshire recycling firm and its directors have been fined after numerous regulations were breached. The company and its directors had a total of 21 enforcement notices issued over several visits from the HSE. The notices covered multiple topics including working at height, work equipment and problems with the electrical systems.

Although there was no incident at the company, the failings found by the HSE have put their workers at risk from serious personal injury. The HSE found that employees were instructed to carry out work at height even after a prohibition notice had been served. A prohibition notice is served when a health and safety inspector believes that continuing the activity presents the risk of serious personal injury. The prohibition notice requires the activity to stop until health and safety controls have been put in place.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations, regulation 5(1) of the Use of Work Equipment Regulations, and regulation 4(1) of the Electricity at Work Regulations. It was fined £83,000 and ordered to pay £7,000 costs.

The directors also admitted breaching regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations, along with s 33(1)(a) of s 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. One was sentenced to 26 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £7,000 costs and the other was fined £7,500 plus £7,000 costs, and ordered to complete 150 hours’ community service.

HSE inspector said after the case: “The Company’s failings in this case have put their workers at risk from serious personal injury. It was clear the overall approach to business risk was haphazard at best, with a culture of negligence, for which the two directors were ultimately responsible.”

The HSE has identified the waste and recycling industry as a priority sector to focus on and will be carrying out a programme of proactive inspections on waste and recycling companies across the country.

The waste and recycling sector, which is made up of around 120,000 workers, has a statistically higher rate of workplace injury and work-related ill health than other sectors. Workers in this industry are more likely to suffer work-related illness than any other sector. In the five years to 2016/17 there were 39 fatalities to workers and 11 members of the public were killed because of work activity in the sector. The main causes of fatal injuries to workers are being struck by moving vehicles, coming into contact with moving machinery and being injured by something collapsing or overturning.

These incidents can be prevented if organisations have proper risk management in place.

Until next time.

Lee Rance