Suspended Sentence for Director Who Ignored Improvement Notice

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Posted on 24 Apr 2014

A recycling firm has been fined and its director given a suspended sentence for endangering workers after allowing them to operate fork lift trucks without proper training and then ignoring an Improvement Notice.

An HSE inspection found two forklifts on site but none of the employees present had had any forklift training. The inspection led to the HSE issuing nine improvement notices over the following four months requiring various failings to be rectified. The company director initially claimed not to have received the notices and so they were served again. Despite extensions of time being granted, the company only complied with three of the notices.

It was also found that the company did not hold any employers’ liability insurance.

BB Recycling pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. The director also pleaded guilty to the same offences. The company, which was no longer trading and was shortly to go into liquidation, was fined £300 with £340 in costs. The director was imprisoned for four months, suspended for two years and an application made for him to be disqualified from acting as a company director or managing or controlling a company for five years. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80. The magistrate made clear that had it not been for the early guilty pleas, a custodial term of six months would have been imposed.


Fork-lift trucks are the most common cause of work place transport accidents. An employer must comply with regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and general duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. An employer should ensure that operators of fork lift truck or other work plant and equipment have received information, instruction and training. The employer must ensure that all operators have attended adequate training and when required refresher training to ensure they are competent to operate a fork lift truck.

All employers must ensure that they:

  • Have a valid certificate of insurance
  • Display copies of the certificate of insurance for information to employees; and
  • Be able to produce the certificate of insurance or a copy when requested. 

Further guidance can be found in the approved code of practice and guidance

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