Director and three managers of a Port Talbot furniture factory charged for ongoing failings in health and safety

Due to continuous failings in their health and safety, three managers and a director of a Port Talbot Furniture Factory in Henshaw Street, have been given suspended prison sentences.

Following a visit in 2015, the Health and Safety Executive found a number of health and safety concerns including substandard toilet and washing facilities, noisy conditions, limited control of wood dust and little to no maintenance of the extraction of fume and dust and other work equipment.

The visit was part of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Programme to premises that were predominantly concerned with woodwork. Such premises are regarded as high risk due to dangerous machinery and hazardous substances.

Consequently, in February 2015, Swansea Crown Court gave the factory Ten Improvement Notices however despite this and additional intervention, conditions failed to improve to an adequate level.

Regarding the matter, Judge Geraint Walters commented, “The operation the four of you were engaged in was nothing short of a ticking time bomb in relation to the health and safety of employees.”

All four, who had all previously managed another company faced with similar health and safety failings, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Each individual was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years, and charged a total of £2500 in costs. Despite only one acting as Company Director, all were disqualified for duration of 5 years from being able to fulfill said role.

Helen Turner, a HSE Inspector, later remarked, “We always try to work with duty holders to help them understand their responsibilities and improve conditions but there is no excuse for people running a business not to know what health and safety standards apply to their work.

“When directors or managers who have the power to make the improvements blatantly disregard their workers’ health and safety we have no option but to prosecute.”

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