Warehouse fined £40,000 for failing to manage work at height

Published: Wednesday, 19th May 2021

A Birmingham plastics wholesaler was fined £40,000 for breaching health and safety regulations at its warehouse, having pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court today (19 May 2021).

Birmingham City Council brought this prosecution against Plastic and Hardware Limited - based at Unit 9 Middlemore Road, Handsworth, B21 0BH - after a series of inspections found risks to employees’ safety.

The company pleaded guilty to four offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of employees at work. These relate to not preventing risks of falling from a loading bay, ladder and walkway, and failing to appoint a competent person to manage health and safety issues at the warehouse.

Plastic and Hardware Limited were also ordered to pay costs of £7,248 and a victim surcharge of £170 at today’s sentencing.

During an inspection on 4 February 2019, a council health and safety inspector issued four improvement notices, requiring the company to install suitable measures to prevent anyone falling from two high level storage platforms, a suitable loading bay gate and lighting in part of the warehouse. A ladder to a mezzanine storage level was prohibited as it was unsafe.

On 7 March 2019, the inspector revisited the premises and found two loading bay gates which were unsafe to use, and two further prohibition notices were issued to company.

A walkway between the two loading bay storage areas had also been installed, which was deemed to be dangerous - a prohibition notice was issued in relation to this on 12 July 2019.

The inspector returned to the premises on multiple occasions between 1 April and 10 September 2019 to establish whether the company had complied with notices issued, in particular an improvement notice issued during a visit on 12 July 2019 instructing the company to appoint ‘a competent person’ to be responsible for health and safety issues.

The court heard that the company had failed to comply with an improvement notice requiring it appoint a competent person.

Councillor Cllr Philip Davis, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Falling from height is a common cause of serious or fatal injuries.

“This case highlights the need for health and safety issues in the workplace to be taken seriously, from the boardroom to the shop floor.

“Our officers will continue to take action where minimum standards of health and safety are not met or being flouted.

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