Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Rotherham metals company a serial safety offender

Meadowbank Vac Alloys, a Rotherham-based metals business, was fined £72,000 (inc. costs) on 19 March 2015 after notching up a shocking 31 enforcement notices identifying 57 safety breaches in just 3 months.
The circumstances were:
  • Following a complaint voicing concern about the condition of the firm’s vehicles, the HSE visited the site in May 2012.
  • They served 20 enforcement notices.
  • The notices covered a multitude of safety and health risks ranging from improvements needed to a variety of plant and lifting machines to the provision of basic welfare facilities for staff.
  • There were a further 4 visits by HSE between then and early August when additional enforcement notices were issued. 
  • These included 7 which banned use of 3 forklift trucks, 3 mechanical grabs and a loading shovel that had no brakes. All had category A defects, the highest possible level meaning ’immediately dangerous’, identified by an independent engineer.
  • The company continued to keep the machines in use even after being specifically prohibited from doing so by the HSE.
  • Although numerous extensions of time were granted by the HSE to Meadowbank Vac Alloys to comply with the enforcement notices, the company continually failed to take adequate action and workers had to operate the defective machines.
  • HSE identified that on 2 occasions in July and August, prohibited machines were still being used. None of the defects had been rectified and again the company director was informed specifically what was needed for the notices to be complied with.
  • During the last inspection, in October 2012, HSE found the dangerous loading shovel still in use and with some 80 hours’ working time clocked up when it should have been idle.

The HSE inspector said:
“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.”

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