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Four receive suspended jail sentences for health and safety failings

The director of a Port Talbot furniture factory and three of its managers have received suspended prison sentences for ongoing health and safety failings.

Swansea Crown Court heard how the factory at Margam Hall Upholstery Limited in Henshaw Street, Port Talbot was included in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) programme of visits to woodworking premises, which are considered a high risk industry because of dangerous machines and hazardous substances including wood dust and glues.

The visit highlighted a number of health and safety concerns at the factory in early 2015 including poor control of wood dust, no maintenance of work equipment including fume and dust extraction and noisy conditions. There were inadequate toilet and washing facilities. Ten Improvement Notices were served on the company in February 2015, and despite ongoing intervention by the HSE, there was little progress and conditions remained poor. Seven of the Improvement Notices were not complied with.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Helen Turner 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.”

Judge Geraint Walters said: ““The operation the four of you were engaged in was nothing short of a ticking time bomb in relation to the health and safety of employees.”

Free guidance on managing the risks within the woodwork industry is available on HSE’s website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/index.htm

The four defendants were previously in charge of Celtic-Leather and Fabric Upholstery Ltd at the same factory premises. This company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive in 2015 for similar health and safety breaches.

Director Brian Baggs, of Mount View Terrace, Port Talbot pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay costs of £2,500. He was also disqualified from acting as a company Director for 5 years.

David Lewis, a shareholder and manager, of Manor Way, Briton Ferry pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay costs of £2,500. Although not a current director, he was also disqualified from acting as a company Director for 5 years.

His brother Matthew Lewis, also a shareholder and manager, of Ford Road, Velindre, Port Talbot, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay costs of £2,500. Although not a current director, he was also disqualified from acting as a company Director for 5 years.

Michael Ball, a shareholder and manager, of High Street, Ogmore Vale, Bridgend, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was given a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay costs of £2,500. Although not a current director, he was also disqualified from acting as a company Director for 5 years.

Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/four-receive-suspended-jail-sentences-for-health-and-safety-failings/

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Environmental Services firm fined over electrocution of worker

A company providing environmental services has been prosecuted after a worker was killed during asbestos removal work at a Welsh High school.

Newport Magistrates Court heard how the 26-year-old father from Gwent had accessed a ceiling void at Cwmcarn High School on 19 July 2013 to create an enclosure to contain the asbestos during its removal. While he was cutting plastic sheeting he cut into a live electric cable and was electrocuted.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Caswell Environmental Services Ltd had not taken adequate steps to ensure that the electrical supply at the school was isolated before the work was undertaken.

Caswell Environmental Services Ltd of Lynton House, Tavistock Square, London were found guilty in their absence, to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, 1974. In sentencing the Judge considered the fact that the company was now in liquidation and delivered a total nominal fine of £10,000 with £1,000 in costs.

Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/environmental-services-firm-fined-over-electrocution-of-worker/


International Engineering Company in Court over workers death

An international engineering company has been sentenced following the death of a worker who fell 30 feet from an electricity pylon.

Vincent John Richards, 49, from Walsall was installing fall arrest lines for painters to use on the pylon at Great Orton, Carlisle on the 5 July 2014 when the incident happened.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and prosecuted Bilfinger Industrial Services (UK) Limited for serious safety failings.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Mr Richards who was employed by the company as a “Rigger”, had been working with a colleague preparing the pylons in readiness for painters to carry out maintenance work. On the morning of the incident, Mr Richards arrived at pylon FT37 and found that the painters had already commenced painting even though the pylon had not been rigged.  Mr Richards had climbed approximately 30ft up the pylon, when he fell backwards, narrowly missing one of the painters working directly below him. As a result of the fall, Mr Richards sustained serious multiple injuries and died at the scene.

The HSE investigation found a number of failings by Bilfinger Industrial Services (UK) Limited in the management of risks arising from work at height. Although the company had a system of work they failed to implement, monitor and enforce this system. This failing exposed their employees to the risk of death.

Bilfinger Industrial Services (UK) Limited of Tudor Road, Manor Park, Runcorn today   (17 November 2016) pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £200.000 and ordered to pay costs of £59,320.10

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Susan Ritchie said: “The company were clearly aware of the hazards involved with pylon work and had a system in place to manage the risks. Unfortunately they failed to implement, monitor and enforce this system of work. In addition they failed to ensure the proper inspection and provision of safety critical personal protective equipment.

Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/international-engineering-company-in-court-over-workers-death/

Builder handed suspended prison sentence and community service following unsafe gas work

A builder has been sentenced to 250 hours of community service for putting a home owner at risk following renovations to their house in Cardiff.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Brian James was hired to carry out renovations to a bungalow in Cardiff specifically to install new plumbing and heating, including a boiler.

Brian James admitted in court that although he did not carry out the work himself he employed a man he had never met before to carry out the work. He did not check that he was sufficiently competent, qualified or a Gas Safe registered engineer. He took his details from a board at a DIY store and could not provide further details to the Health and Safety Executive, who investigated the incident. The boiler had not been fitted with a thermostat and was not commissioned by a registered engineer.

HSE inspector Simon Breen said: “It is essential for public safety that gas appliances are only fitted competent, qualified and registered engineers. Anyone who is carrying out renovations to properties need to make sure they properly check anyone they bring in to carry out gas work so people’s lives are not put at risk.”

Brian James, Llandudno Road, Rumney, Cardiff pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, He was sentenced to 32 week prison sentence, suspended for two years, 250 hours community service, fined £636 and ordered to pay costs of £5,344.29.

Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/four-receive-suspended-jail-sentences-for-health-and-safety-failings/