Director and firm fined after risk assessment failures

October 25, 2023

A pet food company director has been given a suspended prison sentence and his company fined £34,000 after breaching health and safety legislation.

Finer By Nature Ltd appeared before magistrates in Kidderminster for sentencing after entering earlier guilty pleas to four counts of contravening a health and safety regulation, while managing director Gary James Pitchford appeared for sentencing after admitting three counts of contravening a health and safety regulation at the previous hearing.

The court was told that the business had employed two young persons without having made or reviewed a risk assessment made in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 at Whitestone on 15 July 2020.

It had also failed to comply with its duties under the same Regulations by making a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to employee health and safety in relation to a Handmann VF80 vacuum filler machine and ensuring measures were taken to prevent access to any dangerous part of the same machine between 9 and 16 July 2020.

Gary Pitchford, 56, had admitted being the managing director of the company at the time the two young persons were employed and that the offences relating to them had been committed with his consent or were attributable to his neglect.

The offence of failing to take measures to ensure access to dangerous parts of the Handmann VF80 machine had also been committed with his consent or was attributable to his neglect, the court heard.

The case against the pet food company had been brought to court by the HSE.

Gary Pitchford, of Stoke Lacy, Bromyard, was handed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, with 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay a £95 victim surcharge.

Finer By Nature Ltd, of Whitestone Business Park, Whitestone, was fined £34,000 for the offences and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £4,564.15 and a £190 victim surcharge.

This is valid as of 23rd October 2023.

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