A waste firm in south-east London has been prosecuted after repeatedly putting its employees at risk of injury, or even death, from use of heavy machinery that was often left in a dangerous condition.
Westminster Magistrates this week (5 Nov) heard that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to serve Greenwich-based Murphys (Waste) Ltd with a total of ten enforcement notices between 2009 and early 2014.
The most serious breaches related to defects in machines, which presented a “risk of death or serious personal injury to employees and people on site”.
HSE told the court the latest two failures, relating to a loading shovel and a 360 degree excavator, had prompted the prosecution of the company in light of their poor safety record.
During an annual inspection by an engineer in Oct 2013, several defects were found with the loading shovel. The worst was extensive damage to the bolts fixing the front bucket to the machine, which could have led to the bucket falling off and crushing anyone nearby.
HSE inspector John Crookes – “Murphys (Waste) has a dismal record of compliance with safety legislation and seemed to be content with repeatedly exposing its employees to unnecessary danger”
Murphys (Waste) Ltd was advised not to use it until repairs were carried out but were later found to have kept it in use until a visit by HSE in January 2014, when a prohibition notice was served to halt any further use of the vehicle.
In a visit just days later, HSE identified an excavator was being used but had neither its left-side mirror or rear mirror in place, severely restricting visibility of the driver while moving about the site, again posing a risk to other workers. HSE served a further prohibition notice on the company preventing its use.
The court was told that on top of these two breaches, the company had been inspected by HSE six times over five years resulting in eight enforcement notices. Two of these had related to defects on a shovel loader and one had required the firm to introduce a proper system for maintenance of the vehicles.
Murphys (Waste) Ltd of Horn Lane, Greenwich, SE London, was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,287 in costs after admitting two offences under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing, HSE inspector John Crookes said: “Murphys (Waste) has a dismal record of compliance with safety legislation and seemed to be content with repeatedly exposing its employees to unnecessary danger.
“This is a waste management company that takes bulk material from construction sites and uses heavy earth-moving plant. The risks associated with the waste industry are well-documented and widely recognised, but it is one of the most dangerous sectors.
“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.”