Food packaging firms fined for safety failings

Two food packaging firms were fined for health and safety failings

Two packaging firms which manufactured cardboard boxes used by the food and drink industry have been fined for health and safety failings.

W E Roberts was ordered to pay more than £300,000 for health and safety failings, while Diamond Box was ordered to pay more than £400,000.

Maidstone Crown Court heard how an external consultant highlighted a number of health and safety concerns at Kent-based W E Roberts, eight months before a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visit.

Inspectors found a number of areas at the factory that needed improvement. These included electrical safety, machinery guarding and the storage of materials.

The HSE made two visits to the factory, following a number of concerns raised by an ex-employee of the company. A total of 14 notices were served to W E Roberts.

W E Roberts (Corrugated) Ltd, of Boyne Park, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER); Regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

Pleaded guilty

It also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The firm was fined £297,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,180.

Founded in 1958, W E Roberts manufactures cardboard boxes for a number of uses, including cardboard produce tray’s for the fruit and vegetables market. 

The company has three factories in the UK and has a group turnover of around £12M per year.

Meanwhile, Diamond Box was ordered to pay more than £400,000, after the worker put his foot onto an exposed conveyor and was dragged into the machine’s moving parts.

Uncontrolled maintenance

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that the packaging company allowed uncontrolled maintenance work to take place without any assessment of the risks posed by maintenance activities or having procedures in place for safe maintenance.

An HSE investigation found that the machinery had a “jog mode” which could have been set up to enable such maintenance work to be carried out safely, but the company had not identified this, trained staff to use it or enforced its use.

Diamond Box Ltd of Unit 4, Shaw St, Hill Top Industrial Estate, West Bromwich, B70 0TX pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 with £9886.04 costs.

HSE inspector Caroline Lane said: “The company relied on the experience of maintenance employees rather than controlling risks through careful assessment and putting safe systems of work in place.

“In summing up, his Honour Judge Berlin considered the maintenance practices used by Diamond Box to be ‘utterly dangerous’ and the risk to workers was wholly avoidable.”

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