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August 30, 2017

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In-court

Jail for boss who ‘couldn’t care less’ about health and safety

The owner of a skip hire and waste disposal firm based near Swansea has been jailed for a year and his firm fined £35,000 for health and safety breaches.

Sentencing, Robert Collis was slammed by Judge Geraint Walters at Swansea Crown Court for his ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude towards his employees, the public and the environment.

Collis’ business, Crofty Point Metals in Penclawdd, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive following a fire in 2013 which took five engines and 25 firefighters to put out.

Following the blaze, the HSE found a number of safety breaches including the site being un-fenced and open to the public, insecure storage of gas cylinders, and a teenage worker not being issued with safety equipment on site.

Aggressive towards inspectors

Numerous enforcement notices were issues in the next three years but were not acted upon. The HSE then decided to take a preventative prosecution against Collis and Crofty Point Metals despite there not being a death on site.

The court heard how Collis acted so ‘aggressively’ toward the HSE that police officers were required whenever inspectors visited the site.

But Collis did plead guilty to the offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and said he ‘did not do what he ought to have done’.

Additional prosecution

He also pleaded guilty to breaching environmental regulations in a separate prosecution bought by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) – a Welsh assembly sponsored body responsible for the sustainable management of natural resources.

The offences in this case related to skips and loose waste stored on the access road and privately-owned land adjacent to the business, where Collis had been running a waste transfer and sorting operation without permits.

Inspectors from NRW also found dangerous waste on site, including asbestos roofing sheets.

Waste was also found stored on the road next to the business even after Collis had pleaded guilty to the offences.

Conviction

The HSE offences landed Collis with 8 months in prison which was topped up to a year following 4 months for the NRW offences. His firm was fined £35,000 and £10,000 in costs.

A 3 month suspended sentence for a previous offence in 2013 on controlled waste was also activated by the judge – running alongside the 12 month jail term.

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Ray Rapp
Ray Rapp

Surely, he should have also been disqualified as a director?