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Joinery company and director fined for safety failings

Date:
29 November 2013

A London joinery firm and a company director have been fined for multiple safety breaches that put employees at risk.

Park Royal-based Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd and Stephen Morrison were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an inspection on 10 February this year identified a number of serious issues.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday (27 November) that the company had:

  • failed to test ventilation systems for extracting potentially harmful wood dust
  • failed to provide suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE), controls or any health surveillance for employees working with hazardous spray paints
  •  failed to control noise exposure
  •  failed to provide adequate information, training and  supervision to protect workers from hazards, including inhaling chemicals such as isocyanate during spraying processes.

Two Improvement Notices were served requiring action to be taken to stop health and safety from being compromised, and to protect workers undertaking hazardous activities. However, a follow up inspection in April revealed both were ignored. The court was told that little had changed and that there were still serious faults.

Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd, of Sunbeam Road, Park Royal, NW10, was fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay £1,460 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Stephen Morrison, of the same address, was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty of breaching Section 37 of the same Act in his capacity as a director.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Saif Deen said:

“Employers have a duty to protect their workers, but this company carried out high risk activities, such as paint spraying and work that exposed employees to prolonged, high levels of noise, with disregard for their health and safety.

“The seriousness of these breaches was reflected in the Improvement Notices issued, which both the company and Stephen Morrison ignored. They failed to address the fact that workers were placed at unnecessary risk because of the inadequate RPE provisions, and the complete lack of health surveillance. They were being exposed to potentially harmful sprays and noise, and yet the company had no means of monitoring whether it was causing harm.

“Sunbeam Wood Works, under the lead of Mr Morrison, displayed poor performance over the period of our investigation. HSE will not hesitate to take action against duty holders who shirk their responsibilities in this way.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
  3.  Section 21 of the Act covers Improvement Notices. Details here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/section/21
  4. Section 37 covers director culpability. Details here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/section/37

 

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