Furniture firm and consultants fined for safety failings

Two incidents involving serious injuries to workers have led to a Suffolk furniture firm and its health and safety consultants being fined for safety failings.

The incidents occurred at the Haverhill workshop of Jan Cavelle Furniture Company. In the first incident, an employee sustained serious injuries after cutting his thumb on a rotating metal blade when operating a biscuit cutter. In the second incident, another employee severely lacerated and crushed his right index finger while operating the overhead router of a cutter machine.

It's good business practice to ensure that you are well covered in case of accidents at work. In addition to providing the correct training for staff who may find themselves working in potentially hazardous situations, you should have the correct level and type of insurance to protect yourself and your business if something goes wrong. As well as general business insurance, you should look at an employers’ liability insurance policy, to cover you if members of staff are injured at work.

The two incidents, which occurred on 28 February and 2 June 2014 respectively, were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which found a variety of unsafe working practices at the furniture company. These included lack of adequate training, low levels of supervision and poor risk assessment.

In 2013, before the incidents occurred, Worksafe Training & Consultancy Ltd was asked to carry out risk assessments and to update working procedures at Jan Cavelle Furniture Company. This work was subsequently subcontracted to Tony Baker of Leading Health & Safety Consultants Ltd. However, the HSE deemed Mr Baker’s assessments to be neither suitable nor sufficient.

Jan Cavelle Furniture Company was fined £18,000 by Ipswich Crown Court and told to pay £4,000 in court costs. Worksafe Training & Consultancy Ltd was charged £22,500 with court costs of £22,500. Leading Health & Safety Consultants Ltd was fined £5,000 with court costs of £5,000.