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Workers Forced To Use Defective Machinery Despite Multiple Bans

23rd March 2015

A company that continually put its workforce at risk by forcing them to use dangerous machines ignored more than thirty enforcement notices issued within a three month period for the severest level of safety breaches.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the South Yorkshire metal alloys company “displayed a reckless disregard for the safety of its employees and a persistent contempt for the legal notices issued, which required the firm to bring equipment to an acceptable standard.”

Accused of being a “serial offender” at the subsequent Crown prosecution, the court also heard that the Rotherham firm allowed employees to operate vehicles and plant with category ‘A’ defects, meaning  ’immediately dangerous’ -  the highest possible level of risk. The employers also continued to keep the machines in use even after HSE specifically imposed a ban.

At their first visit in response to a complaint raising concern over the condition of the firm’s vehicles, HSE issued twenty enforcement notices covering both safety and health risks. As well as improvements needed to be carried out on a variety of plant and lifting machines HSE also recommended better provision of basic welfare facilities for staff.

Not one of the defects had been rectified

A further four visits by HSE saw additional enforcement notices issued, including seven for banning the use of three forklift trucks, three mechanical grabs and a loading shovel without brakes - all with category A defects, as identified by an independent engineer.

Despite numerous extensions of time granted by HSE to allow the firm to comply with the notices, on further visits it was found that not one of the defects had been rectified and workers still operating the defective machines. HSE stated they had be “in regular contact with the director to ensure what was needed to comply was clear, unambiguous and fully understood.” In total 31 notices identifying 57 safety breaches were served over a three month period.

The company pleaded guilty to multiple breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, three relating to Prohibition Notices and two for offences of non-compliance with Improvement Notices, and a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined a total of £36,000 plus £36,000 in costs.