Building firm fined £70k after factory equipment found in poor state of repair

Kathryn O'Hara appeared at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

Kathryn O'Hara appeared at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

A manufacturing company which supplied building materials for London landmarks such as the Shard, Gherkin and the Olympic Stadium has been fined £70,000 for failing to keep equipment at its Suffolk factory in good repair.

Health and safety inspectors who made an unannounced visit to Lignacite, which manufactures 100,000 concrete blocks a day, discovered that safety perimeter fencing in a production area was in a poor state of repair and gates to the area which should have been locked had been left open.

Lignacite Ltd of Norfolk House, Brandon, admitted failing to comply with a use of work equipment regulation by failing to ensure that work equipment in the cubing area in the block plant had been maintained in good working order and repair.

Fining Lignacite £70,000 and ordering it to pay £12,000 costs, Judge Martyn Levett accepted the company had a high reputation in the building industry but said that although it had a safe system of work it wasn't successfully implemented.

He said inspectors who went to the site in 2018 after being told about health and safety concerns were informed by an employee that some fencing panels had been missing for several weeks and others for three months and locks on the gated entry points had not worked for over a year.

Bethan Rogers, prosecuting, said that large sections of perimeter fencing in the production area were missing or damaged and gated entry points weren't locked.

The court heard that in 2018 the company, which between 2016 and 2018 had an average £29million annual turnover, employed 89 people at its sites in Brandon and Nazeing, Waltham Abbey.

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Jamas Hodivala, for Lignacite, said the breach before the court hadn't resulted an any harm to anyone and it wasn't a case where a company had ignored its health and safety responsibilities.

He said that previous accidents at the site hadn't been caused by damage to the perimeter fence and the gate to the cubing area being left open.

He said the company had no previous health and safety convictions and since 2018 had spent £193,000 on improving machinery, computers, fencing and a new key system which prevented anyone being in the cubing area while the machinery was running.

He said adequate safety procedures had been in place although they may not have been implemented.

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