The director of a South Wales furniture factory and three of its managers have received suspended prison sentences for ongoing health and safety failings.
The Health and Safety Executives (HSE) has been targeting woodworking premises for inspection, as they are considered a high-risk industry because of dangerous machines and hazardous substances including wood dust and glues. Ten Improvement Notices were served on the company in February 2015, following a visit by HSE Inspectors which found poor control of wood dust, no maintenance of work equipment including fume and dust extraction, noisy conditions and inadequate toilet and washing facilities.
Despite ongoing intervention by the HSE, there was little progress and conditions remained poor. Seven of the Improvement Notices were not complied with.
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted two waste management companies for breaching the conditions of their permits.
An Essex company was fined £ 8,136 and ordered to pay £12,000 costs for storing waste so high that it exceeded the site’s permit height restrictions by six metres. Unprocessed mixed waste was found to be overflowing out of the site’s shed and a number of fires had been reported on the site.
A London company was fined was fined £15,000, ordered to pay costs of £13,878.34 and a victim surcharge of £120 for storing an excessive quantity of waste in the yard outside of the waste reception building. The height of the waste exceeded the level allowed in the permit.
A Grimsby chemical company has been fined £2.2 million for an incident in March 2010 when a loss of containment of Titanium Tetrachloride resulted in the death of a worker and a second having life changing injuries. The company was also fined £600,000 for a second release which occurred in July 2011. The company was also ordered to pay £37,868 costs.
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had deviated from the normal operating procedures, which led to the dangerous build-up of the chemical. Parts of the plant and its procedures were poorly designed and the company had not established robust safety management procedures and systems of work to assess and control risk and to ensure that these were actually followed.
After the hearing the HSE inspector commented: “The incident of 5 March 2010 caused the death of one employee and life changing injuries to another. Had the wind been blowing in the opposite direction it could also have caused a local disaster. However, the company still did not learn lessons from the 2010 incident and had another significant release of the same toxic gas just over a year later”