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LA Case Study 1 MAST 4 SMEs Pants to You

“Pants to You” comprises a garden centre, general shop (similar to a garage forecourt shop) selling household goods, pet food and basic foodstuffs for human consumption.  There is also a workshop which is primarily used for assembling prefabricated wooden sheds and making their own sheds from scratch. 

The business is a partnership between father and son, with Mr Jones (Sr) effectively a sleeping partner now, but not giving up involvement and continues to exercise control.  There are 4 employees.  Mr Jones (Sr) has a tendency to get agitated during health and safety visits and often comments that staff should use ‘common sense’ and that ‘elf and safety’ is just about ‘red tape’ and keeping inspectors from the Council employed by visiting small businesses too often.
Mr Jones (Junior) is more tolerant and prepared to listen but worries about spending money on matters that he considers unnecessary or optional extras (like refresher training).  Mr Jones (Junior) actioned 3 out of the 10 items listed on the last inspection 4 yrs ago.   Both felt competent to manage their own risks without outside help or going on any courses (it’s all common sense, they said).  And they don’t do things in writing, it’s more bureaucracy

The inspection revealed:  Shop has had facelift recently with good lighting/roomy walkways/displays and new terrazzo floor.  Staff very helpful, although they don’t stay with the company for long and volunteer to carry goods to cars.  In wintery conditions they deice the door entrance.

The business leases a fork lift truck which is mainly used 2-3 times a week during HGV deliveries. (The fork lift truck is on a service contract).  It is claimed that only Mr Jones (Junior) and one other named person are allowed to drive and operate the forklift truck. (Wallet cards indicate training was carried out this year on a previous, but similar, forklift).  It is claimed that pre-use checks are carried out but no records are kept.  The business also owns a 3 year old Transit tipper vehicle (the tax disk of which expired last week). 

Reasonably modern woodworking machinery including saws, planers, drills, and also nail guns.  Couldn’t find the cross cut saw guard. (Documentation suggests that 2 people received formal training in the use of woodworking saws 5 years ago).  The state of the workshop is reasonable with limited amounts of sawdust present.  There is no LEV.  There are packs of nuisance dust masks provided (but little evidence of use) and some protective eyewear (but it is not properly understood by the employees what range of tasks the eye protection should be worn for or whether it is to a suitable standard).  The business offers a ‘deliver and construct on site’ service for sheds.   
An employee mentions that his employer recently switched to a cheaper, thinner felt for shed roof use to cut costs but that this had caused several quality complaints as the inferior felt rips and comes off in windy conditions.

Manual handling and work at height are also identified as significant risk factors at the centre and on client’s sites.  Basic CIEH manual handling training was provided to some staff 4 years ago..  Health and safety risk assessment documentation consists of a generic style folder produced by an insurance company 6 years ago – it does not address site specific issues.  The business has recently purchased 2 new 5 step ladders, without podium/pulpit but still insist on retaining some old, worn, wooden ladders and steps with no records of inspection.  No written risk assessment is available for use of ladders and steps/work at height but the business claims it briefed staff following receipt of a mailshot information pack from the Council on the subject.  There has been an attempt to rope off the steps to an item of children’s play equipment to discourage use as the equipment is on display on concrete slabs.  Some warning notices are displayed regarding the water hazards associated with water features at the premises but these do not comply with the safety signs regulations.  Some large ceramic plant pots were found to be poorly stacked or unstable – Mr Jones (Junior) attributes this to customers moving them or poor stacking by the pot supplier who delivered them.  Accident book showed an employee cut herself when opening packaging with fixed blade knife and told to be more careful in future.  She made a successful compensation claim which surprised the Jones’s.

Updated 2015-08-27