The fining of a supermarket for providing unsafe equipment and breaching a prohibition notice highlights the importance of health and safety practices.

Whilst health and safety can seem like a lot of red tape, it’s actually in place to ensure that workforces are protected. Poor health and safety will not just affect employees in the present, but the implications can last for a lifetime.

Earlier this month, I read in IOSH Magazine that a supermarket in Hertfordshire had been prosecuted by Dacorum Borough Council. The article detailed how, in November 2018, environmental health officers served a prohibition notice on a meat-cutting bandsaw. It did not have an interlocking guard to protect staff from accessing moving parts of equipment, which included rotating pulleys and the bandsaw blade. The officers placed tape around the bandsaw to prevent use and served the notice.

However, staff later deliberately removed the tape, and the article quoted this as being called a ‘flagrant disregard’ of the prohibition notice.

The supermarket pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(2)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which relates to the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health; and section 33(1)(e) of the Act for breaching the prohibition notice.

The court fined the firm £30,000 for the two offences. This was a lower amount than it could have been as the court took the early guilty plea into consideration. However, for a small business such as this supermarket, that fine will have a huge impact.

The prohibition notice wasn’t there to make a point, nor to be an inconvenience. It was literally there because the bandsaw was unsafe to use. If something had gone wrong, it could have led to life-changing injuries. This should have been dealt with long before the environmental health officers got involved. Whether the issue had been noticed and reported on, or whether it had been completely overlooked, a regular workplace inspection would have picked up something like this. And it would have brought the potential problems of such machinery to the forefront of people’s minds.

A £30,000 fine is nothing in comparison to what could have happened, if a staff member using the machinery had been hurt. It could even have meant a custodial sentence for those in charge.

Health and safety might seem like a box ticking exercise that’s way down the list. But the implications of something going wrong are enormous, and can affect personal lives as well as professional ones.

When was the last time you had a workplace inspection? If you’d like to discuss how Sky Blue Safety could help protect your premises, please contact us at

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