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Written by
on 01 April 2011


The Health and Safety Executive inspected an International packing company and discovered that they had continued to fail to ensure their workers for many years.  The Neal Brothers Limited investigation of their Holmfirth site began last year and uncovered several problems in the construction department.

Inspector Witnessed Failings First Hand

As the inspector from the HSE visited the base he saw that a worker was working on top of a four meter high wooden crate without any safety precautions in place.  There were no safety procedures which would help to prevent the worker from falling.  During the court hearing at Huddersfield Magistrates Court it was revealed that the packing firm had previously been served with an enforcement notice.  This notice was issued back in 2004 and made demands on the firm to make sure that several health and safety improvements were made for all employees who worked above the height of two meters.

Introduced Safety Measures Ignored

After being served with the notice Neal Brothers Ltd did introduce a harness for their employees to wear when they worked at height.  The investigation showed that the harness was only used for a short period before the company went back to old habits.   The inspector re-issued the notice and carried out interviews with the staff and any witnesses to help him with his enquiries into the company’s health and safety procedures.  The investigation showed that the harness had last been used in 2006.

Lack of Height Safety Resulted in Fines

The Huddersfield Magistrates Court ordered the Leicester Firm to pay £3289.20 in court costs and fined them £9000 after they admitted failing to make sure their employees worked in a safe environment at the Holmfirth site.

Previous Enforcement Notice Ignored

The firm had been warned before and had failed to take action and ensure a safe working environment.  The health Inspector Geoff Fletcher stated that it was never acceptable to put the lives of employees at risk, and failing to do so over a long period of time was appalling.  He also highlighted the fact that falling from height was the most common cause of occupational injuries and fatal accidents that happened in the workplace.

Health and Safety Laws and Procedures Need to Be Maintained

According to the Health and Safety Executive during 2008/09 there were a total of 35 deaths caused by a fall from height.  On top of this there were 4654 major injuries to workers and 7065 injures which resulted in the employee taking more than three days off to recover.

It is vital that in your workplace or construction site you have health and safety measures in place.  All employees and employers are to be fully trained in the correct health and safety procedures and it is essential that these actions are maintained.  Our fully trained construction health and safety consultants are here to answer all your questions.  To speak to our team call us free on 0800 1488 677 and discover how we can assist you with all your health and safety needs.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.