Company failed to take steps recommended by Improvement Notice…
A microbrewery based in Oxfordshire has been prosecuted by the HSE after not taking the necessary steps to ensure recommended safety protocols were followed with regard to working at heights and manual handling at their plant.
The company had previously been warned in May 2010 that it needed to improve its safety standards and had received an Improvement notice requiring the company to protect employees in the process of transferring work materials from racking to processing machinery.
HSE inspectors also raised concerns about manual handling procedures at the company specifically with regard to the practice of filling hoppers with malt and barley which typically centred around employees carrying heavy sacks of up to 25kg in a potentially unsafe working environment. The HSE asked the company to conduct a thorough risk assessment of the risks associated with this type of manual handling and to take any necessary precautionary actions.
At the case heard at Aylesbury Magistrates’ Court it was revealed that the HSE revisited the brewery on two occasions in November 2010 and October 2011 but noticed that their recommendations for improvements to working practices at the plant had largely been ignored.
Indeed on revisiting the plant further issues were identified including a mezzanine floor that had inadequate access and a second Improvement Notice was served in March 2011.
The brewery, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £8,623 in costs for breaching Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company had already pleaded guilty to these offences at an earlier hearing.
HSE Inspector Stephen Manley spoke after the hearing:
“The response of the company to the original Improvement Notice was disappointing to say the least. The improvements were necessary in order to protect workers from injury and prevent falls, yet the company took far too long to take appropriate action.
“Thankfully no employees were hurt, but there were clear risks that could easily have been remedied a lot sooner.”
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