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Friday, 30 December 2011

TV show provides evidence of health and safety breaches

Ah, health and safety. A universal excuse for stopping people doing what they want, to which even the Data Protection Act has to concede first place. But of course it does a very useful job too. A recent prosecution demonstrates that you mustn't think the Health and Safety Executive won't find out if you're doing something not quite right.

A firm of stonemasons appeared on Monty Don’s Mastercraft television programme in March 2010. A viewer complained to the HSE about the working conditions shown on his or her TV, including the hard-to-miss fact that employees appeared to be working in a cloud of dust (as, presumably, stonemasons have done since time immemorial). The HSE found the dust in the workplace exceeded legal limits and served an Improvement Notice. Six months later, the HSE found that the ventilation system had not been properly checked and served a second notice. But still the dust problem remained, and on a third visit was twice the permissible level. The company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an Improvement Notice and was fined £5,000 with £1,400 costs, despite its arguments that it took time to locate an engineer and then get the parts to fix the (Italian) machine.

If you are offered your fifteen minutes of fame, make sure you're not revealing something that the HSE will find interesting.

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