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Waste Company Prosecuted For Unsafe Practices

HSE Acts After Waste Plant Workers Put At Risk


A waste firm based in London has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after its inspectors found a spate of safety failings over a period of five years.

Greenwich-based Murphy's (Waste) was served with ten enforcement notices by HSE inspectors between 2009 and early 2014, with the worst of these described as being defects in machinery that posed a "risk of death or serious personal injury to employees and people on site".

The HSE had decided to prosecute the firm after the latest two failings came to light, relating to a loading shovel and a 360-degree excavator.

In the case of the first device, an inspection in October 2013 found bolts attaching the front bucket to the machine were damaged, meaning it was at risk of falling off and crushing anyone in its path. Despite being instructed by the HSE not to use it until repairs were carried out, an inspection in January found the company had continued doing so.

Just days after this, the HSE found an excavator was operating with neither a left-side mirror or rear mirror, meaning the driver had restricted visibility and was therefore a high risk to other persons on the site.

Murphy's (Waste) pleaded guilty in the hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court to two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £6,000 with £1,287 in costs.

Commenting after the case, HSE inspector John Crookes said: "Murphy's (Waste) has a dismal record of compliance with safety legislation and seemed to be content with repeatedly exposing its employees to unnecessary danger."

Noting waste and recycling is one of the "most dangerous sectors", he added: "No company in the industry should be failing to address these risks and no worker should be regularly exposed to such uncontrolled dangers. All work vehicles and equipment must be kept in an efficient condition and in good state of repair."

According to HSE figures, there were 486 cases of serious injury in the waste industry in 2013-14.

Expert Opinion
Health and safety regulation have been put in place for a reason and it is vital employers take their responsibility for the health and safety of employees seriously. This prosecution followed the discovery of a number of safety failings over a prolonged period of time, which is completely unacceptable.

“It is vital employers take any failings seriously and act immediately to correct any problems identified by workers or the HSE. While nobody was injured in these particular incidents, inspectors found problems that had the potential to injure employees and other people on site. We have seen first-hand the devastating and life-changing impact an accident at work can have on employees and it is crucial companies take their responsibilities seriously and comply with the latest regulations.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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