28 October, 2020
A probation notice was served in relation to a meat-cutting bandsaw that was found not have an interlocking guard to protect staff from accessing moving parts of equipment, which included rotating pulleys and the bandsaw blade. In November 2018, Environmental Health Officers from Dacorum Borough Council also placed tape around the bandsaw to prevent its use.
In what was described by the magistrate's court as a "flagrant disregard" of the prohibition notice, the business was found to have deliberately removed the tape. Migagold Ltd trading as Hemel Food Centre, based in the Marlowes, pleaded guilty to breaching its duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
It was fined a total of £30,000 for the two offences - providing unsafe equipment and breaching a prohibition notice. The court took into account an early guilty plea and no previous convictions of the business.
Cllr Julie Banks, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory Services, said: "Health and safety is essential in the workplace and we will take action where it is not being followed. This case sends out an important message, highlighting the need for businesses to comply with health and safety laws and to take all appropriate measures in their business."
Inspectors exercising their powers under section 20 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 have wide ranging powers to enter and inspect premises to ensure that activities are being carried out safely. Prohibition notices can be issued where in the opinion of the inspector they believe that there is an imminent risk of serious personal injury. The purpose of the prohibition notice will be to stop the activity until such time that the unsafe working practice has been remedied. Unsafe machinery and missing guards are a key area of concern for regulatory inspectors given the serious risk they pose to employees should they come into contact with a moving part which may result in death. There is an appeals procedure should an organisation be served with a prohibition notice but this must be made within 21 days of the notice being served. It is important that you seek early legal advice should you wish to challenge the enforcement notice. As in this case, it is simply not acceptable to ignore and breach the prohibition notice which is an offence in its own right which can result in a fine and/or a prison sentence and be seen as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.