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21st November 2016

Company branded a ‘Ticking Time-Bomb’ and Directors Handed Suspended Jail Sentences

In a staggering case which involved  a company being served a record 10 Improvement Notices following a HSE visit, a judge in Swansea has told a company’s director and three managers that their company was “a ticking time bomb in relation to the health and safety employees”.

The defendants were handed down suspended jail sentences for ongoing health and safety failings at their furniture factory in Port Talbot.

Swansea Crown Court heard that the factory was visited by the Health and Safety Executive during a planned programme of visits to woodworking premises.

During the visit to site, the Inspector identified a number of key  health and safety concerns including:

  • poor control of wood dust;
  • no maintenance of work equipment including fume and dust extraction;
  • noisy conditions
  • inadequate toilet and washing facilities

Ten improvement notices were served to the company, but despite ongoing HSE Intervention, there was little progress made, in fact – seven of the improvement notices were not even complied with!

The HSE Inspector involved in the case said: “We always try to work with dutyholders to help them understand their responsibilities and improve conditions, but there is no excuse for people running a business not to know what health and safety standards apply to their work.

“When directors or managers who have the power to make the improvements blatantly disregard their workers’ health and safety we have no option but to prosecute.”

The Company Director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £2,500. He was disqualified from acting as a company director for five years.

The remaining 3 shareholders and managers, pleaded guilty to the same breach of the HSWA. They were each given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £2,500. Although not current directors, they were also disqualified from acting as a company director for five years.

 

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