A waste firm boss has been jailed after a fire exposed his ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ to Health & Safety.

Robert Collis’s firm caught the attention of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after a yard blaze in 2013. Investigators found a number of safety failings including:

  • insecurely stored gas cylinders
  • site being open to the public
  • a teenage employee not being given safety equipment

HSE visits

Over the next three years the HSE made repeated site visits giving verbal and written advice on:

  • security fencing to prevent people getting onto premises
  • maintenance of an excavator
  • safety inspection of lifting equipment

Inspectors issued several enforcement notices to reduce the Health & Safety risks to employees and the public.

But Collis did not act on them. And, as the owner, he was ultimately responsible.

Disregard for the law

A December 2016 site visit found wholly inadequate Health & Safety standards.

The yard was unattended and a gate had been left open. It was full of waste and debris including loose gas cylinders. There was no clear area to allow people to walk round safely.

Nothing meaningful had been done to comply with the law. No maintenance had been done to the excavator and no safety checks had been carried out on the lifting equipment.

Preventative prosecution

Nobody had been injured in the 2013 fire. But because the problems were so serious and persistent, the HSE brought a ‘preventative prosecution’.

Robert Michael Collis pleaded guilty to breaking the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He also admitted environmental offences relating to skips and loose waste.

Collis accepted his firm’s failings and that ‘he did not do what he ought to have done’.

The judge told Collis he had shown a ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ towards the safety of employees, the public and the environment.

Sentence

For the Health & Safety offences, Collis was sentenced to 8 months in prison. He was given a further 4 months for the environmental offences.

And a 3 month suspended sentence for a previous environmental offence was activated by the judge to run alongside the 12 month jail term.

Collis was also disqualified from being a director or manager of a company for 7 years.

Crofty Point Metals Ltd was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 toward prosecution costs.

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