Valeting firm fined for putting workers at risk of electric shock

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A County Durham car valeting company has been fined after failing to comply with enforcement notices and putting workers at risk of electrocution.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors visited UK Express Valeting Limited’s premises at Abraham Industrial Estate, Bishop Auckland, on 22 March 2022 after an earlier visit had resulted in enforcement action being taken. This was concerning unsafe electrical installations and inadequate welfare facilities.

During the inspection in March 2022, several electrical installations were found to be inadequately maintained and dangerous. A prohibition notice was served by HSE, preventing the use of some of the work equipment which posed a risk of electric shock or electrocution.

HSE also served the firm with an improvement notice requiring them to arrange for an electrically competent person to undertake a thorough electrical inspection and test of the fixed electrical installation and associated electrical equipment. The company was required to arrange for any defects identified to be rectified by an electrically competent person.

However, the company failed to act despite four other visits taking place over the following seven months. At one of these visits, it was noted that the electrical installations had further deteriorated, and two further prohibition notices were served on 26 July 2022, prohibiting the use of a roller shutter garage door control and a vacuum cleaner, as both had exposed live conductors which could cause an electric shock or electrocution.

The HSE investigation found workers on the site were put at significant risk of electric shock or electrocution by the lack of maintenance and failure to put right the faults found with the electrical installations. It was also found that the company did not have valid employers’ liability compulsory insurance.

UK Express Valeting of Abraham Enterprise Park, Bishop Auckland, Durham, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice, Section 33(1)(g) and Section 1(1) of the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,239.80 in costs at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court.

HSE inspector Clare Maltby said: “Companies are responsible for making certain that their electrical installation and equipment are maintained to prevent danger. [They] must properly maintain their electrical installation and equipment. Failure to comply with enforcement notices is a serious offence, and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute where companies fail to take the action required.”