Four people have received suspended jail sentences and heavy fines for a variety of ongoing health and safety failings at a furniture factory in Port Talbot.
When the Health and Safety Executive visited the factory as a part of their programme of visits to woodworking premises, they found a number of health and safety concerns. These included poor control of wood dust, a lack of maintenance on work equipment such as fume and dust extraction, inadequate toilet and washroom facilities and a failure to control noise. The HSE served ten improvement notices on the firm after the visit in February 2015, but upon a re-inspection it was found that 7 of the 10 notices had not been complied with, and the working conditions remained very poor and potentially dangerous.
The Director of the company, Brain Baggs, along with three other shareholders and managers; David Lewis, Matthew Lewis and Michael Ball, all pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were each sentenced to a 10 month prison sentence, suspended for 2 years, as well as being ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Helen Turner said: “We always try to work with duty-holders to help them understand their responsibilities and improve conditions, but there is no excuse for people running a business not to know what health and safety standards apply to their work. When directors or managers who have the power to make the improvements blatantly disregard their workers’ health and safety we have no option but to prosecute.”
The Judge on the case, Geraint Walters said: “The operation the four of you were engaged in was nothing short of a ticking time bomb in relation to the health and safety of employees.”
No matter what line of business you are involved in, you have a right to work in a safe environment. If you have concerns about the safety of your work place you should speak up; tell your supervisor or someone else in a position of authority. If they fail to make the necessary improvements it could well be worth speaking to one of our highly experienced solicitors. If you are injured or hurt in your place of work you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation – contact us today to find out how we can help you get the pay out you deserve.