Packaging firms ignored safety warnings for 3 years

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fast food

Packaging firms ignored safety warnings for 3 years
The directors of a Bolton-based, fast food packaging company have been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after ignoring safety warnings for more than three years.

First Packaging company directors Anthony Smith and Yvonne Barrett were fined for failing to install guards on machines used to produce packaging for fast food outlets.

HSE Inspector Alex Farnhill said: "The two directors deliberately set out to avoid complying with the legal warnings we issued, allowing their employees to continue to operate dangerous machinery.

Beggars belief

"It beggars belief that they chose to put workers at risk of serious injury after enforcement notices had been served, deciding to put profit over the safety of their employees.

"We had no choice but to prosecute when​ they continued to deliberately and fragrantly ignore the formal warnings."

Trafford Magistrates' Court heard the firm’s machines removed paper from the ends of giant rolls used by the newspaper industry. But no guards were provided to prevent workers' hands being pulled in by the rotating machinery.

HSE issued an Improvement Notice on 14 January 2008 ordering guards to be installed on the machines at the firm’s Wadsworth Industrial Estate in Bolton.

The company was given a six month extension on the deadline to comply with the notice but the guards had still not been installed when the site was revisited in August 2008. HSE inspectors were told the factory would be closing and no further action was taken.

New premises

Early last year, HSE learned that, instead of closing, the firm had moved to new premises on the West Industrial Estate in Westhoughton and was still using the same unguarded machines. It issued two Prohibition Notices stopping work immediately and another four Improvement Notices.

Later that year, First Packaging stopped trading. Smith then set up a new company called First Packaging North West at Pilot Works in Bolton. Again, HSE found Smith had still not had guards fitted to the machines and issued another five Improvement Notices last February.

Smith and Barrett both pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by not preventing workers being put at risk at the Westhoughton site. They also pleaded guilty to comply with the Improvement Notice issued at the Wadsworth site.

Smith also admitted failing to ensure the safety of workers at the Pilot Works site. He was fined £705 and ordered to pay £2,500 in prosecution costs.

Barrett was fined £360 with costs of £1,500.

None of the firms’ workers reported being injured due to lack of guards on the factories’ machinery.

Related topics Meat, poultry & seafood

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1 comment

HSE Failings

Posted by Raymond Jackson,

Why did it take the HSE so long to follow-up their concerns? The fact the firm hadn't closed, but simply moved to alternative premises, cannot be used as an excuse for the HSE's failings.

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