Ten companies where health and safety issues proved a sometimes costly business revealed in Herts Advertiser investigation

Aspenlink - photo courtesy Google Street View.

Aspenlink - photo courtesy Google Street View. - Credit: Archant

Although St Albans district council has recently avoided being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after two workers fell through a garage roof, other organisations have not been so lucky.

Clearing work at The Odyssey

Clearing work at The Odyssey - Credit: Archant

The HSE launched a probe after an accident involving two council officers, working as surveyors, over two years ago.

But, the organisation has decided against taking the authority to court as it made sweeping changes to its policies in the wake of the incident.

The Herts Advertiser has looked at action - often costly - taken against various local firms, theatres and even schools, and compiled a list of prohibition notices, and successful prosecutions over the past few years. All information has been obtained from www.hse.gov.uk

1. Paper company Aspenlink Ltd, of Park Street, was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £1,200 in costs in January 2015 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. A worker suffered multiple injuries when he was struck by a 3.2 tonne reel of paper in 2013.

2. In 2014, T Godfrey and Sons, Harpenden, had to comply with regulations after being given an immediate prohibition notice in relation to a home’s basement construction, because it had “insufficient edge protection or other means to prevent [people] from falling a distance liable to cause personal injury”.

3. James Hannaway, of Berkhamsted, the sole director of the Alpha Cinema (St Albans) was prosecuted by the HSE in late 2015 after he allowed refurbishment of the derelict multi-screen cinema, the Odyssey in London Road, to begin in 2010 without proper checks for asbestos. After an asbestos survey was eventually carried out in early October 2012, which identified the presence of the fibre in the building after the removal of debris, it was recommended that no-one entered the affected areas. Despite this, Stevenage Magistrates’ Court was told that Hannaway was seen taking people into the building to view ongoing work. After pleading guilty to various breaches, he was fined £11,660 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.

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4. Stone Affair Limited, in Colney Street, was issued with an improvement notice in 2014 – which it complied with – in relation to an extraction system deemed ‘insufficient’ to adequately control exposure to respirable (ultrafine particles) crystalline silica, released during grinding, drilling, cutting, sanding and polishing.

5. Building firm John Sisk and Son Ltd, of Curo Park in Frogmore, was found guilty of an offence under the Heath and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and fined £64,000. It was one of two companies fined in January, 2016, for safety failings that led to two workers being seriously injured at a construction site when a cold store collapsed under them. John Sisk and Son was appointed as principal contractor for fitting out a new distribution warehouse in Motherwell. Hemsec Installations, of Birkenhead, was subcontracted to design and build the cold store structure. On October 12 2010, two workers employed by Sitewatch, a subcontractor of Sisk, were seriously injured when the roof lids of the partly built cold store collapsed while they were working on them. One man suffered serious fractures to his thigh bones. HIL Installations Ltd - formerly trading as Hemsec, was found guilty of a health and safety offence and fined £71,000.

6. In October 2016 a roofing company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,865 after a worker fell five metres through a roof, sustaining severe injuries. The 32-year-old labourer was working for Richardson Roofing Company, Staines, Middlesex, on a construction site at Kingsley Green, Radlett, on August 8, 2013. His injuries included two broken wrists and four fractures to the skull.

7. St Albans Magistrates’ Court heard how Ace of Hearts Home Improvement Ltd removed asbestos containing materials from a home in St Albans in an unsafe manner, on September 25 in 2015. After pleading guilty to breaching various regulations, the Hemel Hempstead based firm was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,118.50, in July 2016. Asbestos insulation board soffits surrounding the underside of guttering around the property had been dismantled in an unsafe way, creating the serious risk of respiratory exposure of fibres to the two workers and the household itself – a family of four.

8. Nearly four years ago, an immediate prohibition notice was served on a firm in London Road, St Albans, then operating as The Metro Specialists, for failing to maintain a vehicle lift in good repair, which put employees at risk of being crushed, trapped or struck by it. No further action was taken.

9. In mid-2015, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, St Albans, complied with an improvement notice which had been issued after HSE officials said work being carried out was likely to expose employees to risk from hand arm vibration, and “the company failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk created to the health and safety of its employees”.

10. The governing body of Nicholas Breakspear School in St Albans was served with an improvement notice – which it had complied with by September 2011 – in regards to a failure to have an asbestos management plan in place, failing to provide employees with adequate information, instruction and training about the risks and precautions associated with the fibre’s presence.