Alloy wheel refurbishment firm fined £80,000 for failing to protect its workers

An Alloy Wheel Refurbishment company in Hemel Hempstead has been fined £80,000 for multiple health and safety failings.

St Albans Magistrates’ Court heard how when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out a site visit at Maxpowder Limited on 2 March 2022 they found extremely poor standards of health and safety.

That visit came as part of a series of proactive inspections focussing on the use of dichloromethane (DCM) and hydrofluoric acid to strip paint from alloy wheels in industrial installations. The HSE Inspector found the company were exposing their employees to DCM and hydrofluoric acid, because adequate control measures were not in place. They had failed to provide adequate ventilation by means of local exhaust ventilation (LEV), personal protective equipment and information, instruction, and training.

Other breaches of health and safety were also identified, relating to electrical safety and exposure to welding fume.  When the company was re-visited the inspector found they had not complied with one of their improvement notices. They had installed LEV to control exposure to welding fume when they were not competent to do so and the LEV was found to not reliably and effectively control exposure of their employees to welding fume, which is hazardous to their health.

At St Albans magistrates’ court on 28 September 2023 Maxpowder Limited, of Kents Avenue, Apsley Industrial Estate, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 33(1)(g) and 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,080. Sentencing the company, District Judge Dodd found that the company’s “safety standards fell well short of the standard expected.”

After the hearing HSE inspector Adam Johnson commented: “Anyone intending to work with DCM based products should carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks and implement adequate control measures before commencing work.

“It is important to ensure businesses appoint sufficiently competent persons to assist them in complying with the law, which includes the design and installation of LEV systems”.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More information about the legislation referred to in this case is available.
  3. HSE guidance on dichloromethane is available.
  4. Further details on the latest HSE news releases is available.