A metals business based in Rotherham has been fined £36,000 plus a further £36,000 in prosecution costs after racking up a total of 31 enforcement notices from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in just 3 months. Meadowbank Vac Alloys was found to have risked their workers’ lives repeatedly by making them use dangerous machines.
The enforcement notices were served between 29th May and August 2012 and identified 57 different safety breaches. HSE had been alerted to possible breaches in a complaint about the condition of the company’s vehicles. These notices included bans on the use of 3 forklift trucks, 3 mechanical grabs and a loading shovel which had no functioning brakes. These all had category A defects as identified by an independent engineer. Category A is for the most severe faults, defined as those which are ‘immediately dangerous’.
Meadowbank Vac Allots were granted several time extensions by the HSE to comply with the notices but the company showed complete disregard and continued to use the dangerous machines. On 2 occasions during follow up inspections, the HSE had identified that the prohibited machinery was still in use and none of the defects had been addressed. In the final inspection, the HSE discovered that the loading shovel was still in use with an additional 80 hours of working time having been clocked up.
HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said after the hearing:
“Meadowbank Vac Alloys displayed a reckless disregard for the safety of its employees and a persistent contempt for the legal notices issued requiring the firm to bring equipment to an acceptable standard.
“HSE exercised protracted patience with the company and was in regular contact with the director to ensure what was needed to comply was clear, unambiguous and fully understood.
“Despite being given ample opportunity, Meadowbank chose to ignore their responsibilities; put workers in danger on a daily basis; defy the law and turn a deaf ear to information, advice and guidance conveyed by inspectors and an independent engineer.”