Multiple Failures by Company Bring Fines and Bad Publicity


A case has just been brought to court that highlights so many breaches of legislation, it would make a primer for aspiring Health and Safety consultants.

Many Enforcement Notices were served over a 7-month period by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on manufacturing firm Skyways Shopfitters Ltd of Sky Studios, London.

The HSE inspectors were concerned for the safety of the employees working at Skyways, hence their repeated visits to the site in the period from September 2010 to March 2011.

The offending lapses were in the following areas:

  • Failure to examine lifting equipment
  • Suitable respiratory protective equipment was not provided for people carrying out spraying
  • Secure storage not supplied for the highly-flammable liquids used in the plant
  • Defective electric systems were not repaired
  • Those operating lifting equipment were not being trained in its use
  • LEVs (local exhaust ventilation systems) were not being checked
  • The company failed to protect its operatives from moving machinery parts

Damning Verdict

HSE inspector Saif Deen was quoted as saying, “employers have a duty to protect their workers, but this company carried out several high-risk activities such as lifting operations, paint spraying and storing flammable liquids with an almost total disregard for health and safety. The seriousness of these breaches was reflected in nine Improvement Notices issued. HSE will not hesitate to take action against employers who shirk their responsibilities in this way.”

The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The court fined them £18,000 and ordered them to pay the full prosecution costs of £6,210 (in addition of course to their own costs from the case).

Need for Help

It does not matter whether a company is concerned with manufacturing safety or construction safety, the same basic rules apply and there is no excuse for not complying with the regulations: if in-house expertise does not exist then it is possible to get professional assistance from safety consultants like McCormack Benson Health & Safety. They can carry out the actual risk assessments as a well as organising health and safety regimes and training in areas that were at fault in this case, including the examination and operation of lifting equipment; electrical testing; LEV checking and implementing cleaning procedures; provision of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment); organisation of secure storage; and the guarding and interlocking of machinery.

With the stated aim of HSE being to target high-risk areas of manufacturing and the construction sector this year, the time to review your operation and to enlist external assistance is now.