Huthwaite firm fined £40,000 for health and safety breach


A Huthwaite cold storage firm has been fined a total of £40,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Health and Safety regulations.

Dawsonrentals Portable Cold Storage Ltd appeared for sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court following separate Health and safety investigations after a worker was injured by falling equipment and several others developed a disabling condition of the nerves and joints.

Judge Greg Dickinson QC heard how agency worker Kevin Rodgers, 37 from Mansfield was struck and trapped by a section of a portable cold storage unit which fell on him as was dismantling part of it at the company’s premises on the Fullwood Industrial Estate. The accident caused him to break several bones in his foot.

The prosecution said Mr Rodgers and a fellow agency worker had been dismantling cold storage units, which was a non-routine job at a separate part of the premises.

The company admitted they were working unsupervised, had no training for the role and there were no proper procedures in place for the work to be carried out. The root cause of the accident had been a failure to specify a method of work and training.

in a separate HSE investigation, 13 employees were reported to be suffering from various stages of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) a condition caused by using heavily vibrating equipment. One case was so severe that the worker was unable to do his job any longer.

The court heard employees were using jig-saws, rip saws and needle guns for extended periods.

The firm had failed to carry out suitable risk assessment, failed to produce a safe system of work or to plan work properly. Dawsonrentals failed to heed warnings from their own Health and Safety manager from 2005 to 2009. It was only at the insistence of their insurers in 2010 they set in place a risk assessment which had taken more than a year to complete.

Defending Mike Atkins said the firm had made a frank admission and all training issues revealed by the HSE investigation had been addressed. All proper processes were now in place for managing the use of vibrating tools and a comprehensive system of monitoring employees.

He said the offences had been careless rather than reckless.

Judge Dickinson fined the firm £10,000 in relation to Mr Rodgers and £30,000 for the HAVS breaches.

Following the case, Inspector of Health and Safety, Stuart Pilkington said: “The exposure to vibration can be controlled. This case demonstrates the importance of training employees and properly assessing the risks of vibrating tools. The Agency has published detailed guidance on its website.

The accident which resulted in serious injury to a worker demonstrates the importance of properly assessing risk , particularly for temporary and agency workers and non-routine training.

Also it is important to ensure the correct level of supervision appropriate to the work they are doing.

“The company has cooperated fully with the investigation. We are satisfied with the risk control measures they now have in place in relation to the accident and cases of ill health.”