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11th December 2013

Joinery Company and Director Fined for Safety Failings

A London joinery firm and a company director have been fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay £1,460 in costs for multiple safety breaches that put employees at risk.

Park Royal-based Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd and Stephen Morrison were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an inspection on 10 February this year identified a number of serious issues.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on that the company had:

  • failed to test ventilation systems for extracting potentially harmful wood dust
  • failed to provide suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE), controls or any health surveillance for employees working with hazardous spray paints
  •  failed to control noise exposure
  •  failed to provide adequate information, training and  supervision to protect workers from hazards, including inhaling chemicals such as isocyanate during spraying processes.

Two Improvement Notices were 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 involved in the case 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.”

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