Friday 29 November 2013

Director fined for ignoring improvement notices

London-based Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd and a director, Stephen Morrison, were fined on 27th November 2013 as a result of an inspection on 10 February 2013 and follow-up in April identified a number of serious issues.
  • Two Improvement Notices were served in February requiring action to be taken to stop health and safety from being compromised, and to protect workers undertaking hazardous activities. 
  • The follow up inspection in April revealed both were ignored. 
  • Little had changed and that there were still serious faults.
As a result, Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd, was fined a total of £21,460 (inc. costs) and Stephen Morrison fined £8,000.
Relevant sections of 
the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 were 2(1), 21 and 37.
The faults found in February were 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.
The HSE Inspector 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.”

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