Lawyers Say Lessons Must Be Learnt After HSE Inspection At Durham Firm
By Suzanne Rutter
Expert lawyers have called for valuable lessons to be learnt about the importance of safety in the workplace after a Durham company was fined for deliberately disabling the safety mechanisms on two baling machines.
Bosses at Foreman Recycling Limited, which is based on the Merrington Lane industrial estate in Durham, appeared before Darlington Magistrates’ Court earlier this week following an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE found eight serious faults on the two machines used to compress material such as cardboard and cans for recycling, including the deliberate bypassing of key control systems to allow access to the compaction chambers, and damage to one of the emergency stops on a feed conveyor.
The court was told that as a result of the failings employees had been put at risk of serious injury for months. The company was fined £27,200 and ordered to pay £4,802 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Rachel Di Clemente, a workplace injury expert at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: “Employers have a duty to ensure their employees are properly protected from harm and this is especially important when it comes to potentially dangerous machinery such as baling machines.
“Employees have the right to go to work without the fear of being hurt and this case is a stark reminder that health and safety standards must be maintained and dangerous machinery should have the correct safety guards.
“Thankfully, no one was injured by the defective machinery at Foreman Recycling but we hope the firm, and other businesses, learn valuable lessons from this case to prevent any accidents in future.”
According to the HSE, the combined fatal and major injury rate in the waste and recycling sector is more than four times the average across all industries.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Victoria Wise, said: “The two baling machines inspected at Foreman Recycling Limited were found to have a significant number of fundamental safety features disabled, a situation the company’s management was aware of.
“The standards found at the site were unacceptable. Fortunately no-one was injured by the machines, but this prosecution should act as a wakeup call to companies who do not have a robust safety management system or who put profit before safety.”