PICTURES: Preston eaterie fined £15,000 over health and safety flouts

Investigators caught men working at height from a van roof
Investigators caught men working at height from a van roof

This is the moment two workers at a Chinese restaurant try to erect a sign - after climbing on to the roof of a van.

New Element 2016 Ltd which runs the New Element Restaurant, on Corporation Street, Preston, admitted three health and safety offences before Preston Magistrates’ Court.

Deadly cutting blade was not guarded

Deadly cutting blade was not guarded

Prosecuting for Preston City Council, Jorge Carrera-Rodriguez said police had been called following a serious drunk and disorderly incident at the premises, and had contacted the council with concerns.

The premises was visited on in February 2017 and during the visit a health and safety inspector found the company did not have a written health and safety policy or risk assessment. When inspecting the food preparation area, a meat slicer with no protective guard was found.

There were also a number of other concerns raised by the inspector regarding the gas and electrical installations, slip and trips hazards and accumulations of dirt and filth.

The restaurant was served with three improvement notices, which were later all complied with.

New Element

New Element

But on July 17 last year the company director Mr He and another man were witnessed working unsafely on the roof of a van to erecting a sign above the premises’ entrance.

Mr Carrera-Rodriguez said that the absence of any health and safety policy or risk assessment demonstrates a fragrant disregard for the law. Members of the public and employees were put at risk of harm.

In mitigation, Mr He said that his wife had the experience running a business but he was left to do it alone following his divorce.

He admitted he knew the business had problems and he didn’t control it very well.

District Judge Gerald Chalk said: "There is no evidence that anyone suffered injury from the offences, nethertheless the potential for injury was very high."

He said the company did not appreciate the need to have a safety regime at all and the other two offences were "clear and obvious risks", meaning the company’s culpability is very high.

In addition to the fine, the firm must pay full costs of £1,548 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Counc Peter Moss, cabinet member for planning and regulation, said: “The magistrates in this case echoed the council’s view that these were serious offences committed with blatant disregard for health and safety legislation.

“We have a duty to ensure all businesses comply with relevant policies and legislation for health and safety. This successful prosecution sends the message that neglecting these essential areas of running a business will not be tolerated in Preston.”

THE LAW

Section 2 (3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 puts every employer under a duty to prepare a written statement of their general policy, often referred to as their health and safety policy.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 11 places a duty on employers to prevent the access to any dangerous parts of a machine before any part of a person enters the ‘danger zone’.

The Work at Height Regulations 2005, Regulation 6 requires employers to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent a person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury. Falls from over 2 meters frequently result in serious personal injuries or death.

It’s a legal requirement for every employer to have a health and safety policy, and if five or more staff are employed then it must be written down.