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Director sentenced to 12 months in prison for failing to comply with HSE enforcement notices

  • Legal Development 10 February 2022 10 February 2022
  • UK & Europe

  • Insurance & Reinsurance

Tahir Karim, a Director of Long Life Spares, a former car salvage company operating from Graddfa Industrial Estate, Caerphilly, entered guilty pleas to four offences that contravened section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

At a hearing at Newport Crown Court in November 2021, the judge gave the statutory credit attributable to a guilty plea. The Director was also ordered to pay £11,194.05 prosecution costs and a £140 victim surcharge. The company is recorded as being dissolved on 28 May 2019.

The facts of the case

The Director had failed to comply with four HSE prohibition notices relating to structural safety issues within the Long Life Spares site and the use of unsafe forklift trucks. Two of the forklift trucks on which notices had been served were defective and the HSE found a bridge structure and stone retaining wall to be in extremely poor condition and at risk of collapse. All issues posed a risk of serious injury to employees, individuals using the site as a place of work and those visiting the site.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) pursued an investigation after a report from a forklift examiner in November 2018 observed a Category A defect on a forklift truck. Between 2016 and 2018 the HSE served 15 enforcement notices at the premises. On reinspection the HSE found that there had been a failure to comply with four prohibition notices served. Further the Director, who was in control of activities and people working at the site between 2018 and 2021, was said by the HSE to have been “aware of the risks and directed workers to act in a way that contravened the prohibitions and risked their own safety”.

The Court's findings

The judge concluded that culpability was very high. Mr Karim flagrantly disregarded the law, put cost before safety and put employees and members of the public at risk, that risk lasting over a period of years.

This prosecution pertains to one of the sharper operations observed in recent years. Of note, however, is the necessity to ensure risk factors to workers and the public’s safety are addressed on work sites on a continuing basis and in respect of not only workplace transport and equipment, but the environs of the site. Routine HSE inspections are said to be on track now after a recruitment drive by the HSE in 2021.

A proactive H&S regime

A visible and proactive health and safety regime will ensure that companies are HSE inspection ready and capable of responding to any incident with a robust investigation and with the ability to provide up to date risk documents on training and compliance.

A business can ensure it is operating safely and in compliance with the relevant legislation, thereby protecting its position. Practical steps include:

  • Regular audits of risk documentation and training
  • Updating technology
  • Audits on agency worker providers and ensuring training is provided to the same level as permanent full time employees
  • Consider in house group and facilities management
  • Ensure regular maintenance and repairs of all vehicles are undertaken and documented
  • Make yourself familiar with the regular updates from organisations such as the HSE and EHO

*This content was written by BLM prior to its merger with Clyde & Co*


Additional authors:

Lindsay Orr, Associate

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