A Derbyshire company has been fined for putting employees in danger by allowing them to work in confined spaces without any relevant training or safety measures.
Derby Crown Court heard today (22 November) that SAPA Profiles UK Ltd, which makes aluminium profiles, regularly sent workers into a 5.5 metre deep pit to retrieve waste aluminium that had collected at the bottom.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the company’s Sawpit Lane premises in Tibshelf in May 2008 and served an Improvement Notice after discovering that work in the pit was not carried out in accordance with a safe system of work, which should have included the provision of adequate training. The company complied with the Notice and developed a safe system of work, including providing training to some of their workers, but in August 2011 a member of staff contacted HSE to raise concerns about the way in which confined spaces work was carried out.
During a follow-up visit on 31 August 2011, HSE inspectors found the company had a written safe system of work, but it was not being adhered to. The policy stated staff should be trained when either working in the pit or observing from the top, however that training was never provided to a number of the workers involved.
In addition, some of the harnesses intended to be worn by workers when accessing the pit had not been thoroughly examined to ensure that they were safe to use despite being reminded by their insurer of this requirement. It was also found that a gas analyser, used to ensure that the atmosphere in the pit was safe, had not been calibrated to ensure its accuracy.
SAPA Profiles UK Limited, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to protect its workforce. Derby Crown Court fined the company £30,000 and ordered it to pay full costs of £12,348.
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