South London waste firm’s ‘dismal’ safety record

Safety Forward Enforcement Support

A south-east London waste firm has been prosecuted due to repeatedly putting its employees at risk of injury, or even death, from use of heavy machinery that was continuously left in a dangerous condition.

Today, Westminster Magistrates  (5th Nov) heard that the Health and Safety Executive have had to serve Greenwich-based Murphys (Waste) Ltd with ten enforcement notices in total between 2009 and early 2014. The most serious breaches being related to defects in machines that presented a ‘risk of death or serious personal injury to employees and people on site’.

HSE told the court the more recent  two failures, which were relating to a loading shovel and a 360 degree excavator, had pushed the prosecution of the company as a result of their poor safety record.

On October 23rd, an annual inspection by an engineer discovered that were several defects with the loading shovel. The worst defect was extensive damage to the bolts that fixed the front bucket to the machine. This could have led to the bucket falling off and therefore potentially crushing anyone nearby.

Murphys (Waste) Ltd was advised not to use it until repairs were carried out but were later found to have kept it in use until a visit by HSE in January 2014, when a prohibition notice was served to halt any further use of the vehicle.

In a visit just days later, HSE identified an excavator was being used but had neither its left-side mirror or rear mirror in place, severely restricting visibility of the driver while moving about the site, again posing a risk to other workers. HSE served a further prohibition notice on the company preventing its use.

The court was told that on top of these two breaches, the company had been inspected by HSE six times over five years resulting in eight enforcement notices. Two of these had related to defects on a shovel loader and one had required the firm to introduce a proper system for maintenance of the vehicles.

Murphys (Waste) Ltd of Horn Lane, Greenwich, SE London, was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £1,287 in costs after admitting two offences under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Crookes said:

“Murphys (Waste) has a dismal record of compliance with safety legislation and seemed to be content with repeatedly exposing its employees to unnecessary danger.

“This is a waste management company that takes bulk material from construction sites and uses heavy earth-moving plant. The risks associated with the waste industry are well-documented and widely recognised, but it is one of the most dangerous sectors.

“No company in the industry should be failing to address these risks and no worker should be regularly exposed to such uncontrolled dangers.  All work vehicles and equipment must be kept in an efficient condition and in good state of repair.”

Waste and recycling an industry in where employees highly likely to be injured by their jobs according to the latest 2013/14 HSE statistics with 486 major/specified injuries.