A Sunderland solvent recycling company has been fined £27,000 following a leak of about 4,000 litres of solvent during processing. The subsequent investigation by the Environment Agency found management systems and operating procedures were deficient, including no formal inspections for pipes and sumps, and an inadequate operating procedure for the transfer of liquid chemicals.
The District Judge, said during sentencing, that the incident occurred due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances. He added there was significant mitigation and he was impressed by the efforts of the company to make changes, and the acceptance that further work is needed.
Two Essex-based companies have been fined a total of £215,000 and ordered to pay £16,300 costs after exposing workers to asbestos over a period of years, despite knowing of its presence, in units that they occupied . Basildon Magistrates heard that asbestos had been found in poor condition when one of the companies moved into the Benfleet premises in 2007, but that it failed to take any actions over the succeeding years. As a result, its employees were exposed to asbestos fibres.
In 2014, following the appointment of a new health and safety officer, an asbestos survey was carried out. This confirmed the ongoing presence of asbestos. Despite this, workers remained exposed to risk while the two companies argued about who was responsible for its removal. The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation, having been alerted by concerned employees. HSE’s scientists found asbestos fibres at the workers’ clocking-in point, in the stationary cupboard and on rafters above their heads.
Three companies have been fined a total of £2 million after a worker’s leg was broken in six places when a trench which he was working in collapsed on him. The firm contracted to carry out the excavation works were not approved for this type of specialist excavation work. They appointed a supervisor who had never supervised work, nor did he have the relevant training and qualifications to do so. After the accident the method statement was backdated to give the impression that it was signed by the workers prior to the trench collapsing.
The HSE inspector said: “This incident was foreseeable and avoidable and the injuries were the result of multiple failings by the duty holders, from the planning stage through to the execution of the project, resulting in the inevitable collapse of an unsupported trench.