18 July 2013
A London skip company has been fined for dangerous working practices and other failings arising from its storage of skips at a Park Royal goods yard.
Simpson Eco Skips Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) yesterday (17 July) after an inspection of the depot on 19 July 2011 identified a number of serious issues.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that on arrival at the Western Road site, HSE inspectors witnessed a worker descending a stack of skips some ten metres high with nothing to prevent or mitigate a fall, having initially climbed up – unseen – to attach a crane hook to a shackle.
A second worker then clambered up and down a smaller stack just a few metres away, also seemingly unaware of, or disregarding, the consequences had he slipped.
HSE established that the clearly-dangerous practice was indicative of poor management and a lack of competence and training.
Simpson Eco Skips also failed to produce a valid certificate for the crane in use at the time to confirm it had been properly examined and was in good working order – as is required by law.
Inspectors served a total of five Improvement Notices requiring changes to be made, all of which were subsequently complied with.
Simpson Eco Skips Ltd, registered to Neasden Goods Yard, Neasden Lane, NW10, was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £1,260 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Neil Fry commented:
"Standards for controlling risks arising from working at height, as well as the general management of health and safety, can be pretty poor in the skip hire sector of the waste industry – as was clearly the case at Simpson Eco Skips.
"The failings we uncovered were for technical breaches, but workers could have been seriously hurt or possibly even killed as a consequence of the dangerous practices and lack of safety awareness and provisions.
"The onus is on dutyholders to take proactive steps to protect and safeguard their workforce and others before an incident occurs."
Further information on working safely at height can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/falls
Notes to editors
- 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
- 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."
- Regulation 9(3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 states: "Every employer shall ensure that lifting equipment which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is
(a) thoroughly examined – (i) in the case of lifting equipment for lifting persons or an accessory for lifting, at least every 6 months; (ii) in the case of other lifting equipment, at least every 12 months; or (iii) in either case, in accordance with an examination scheme; and (iv) each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the lifting equipment have occurred; and (b) if appropriate for the purpose, is inspected by a competent person at suitable intervals between thorough examinations, to ensure that health and safety conditions are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time."