The boss of a car salvage yard has been jailed for a year after ignoring 15 safety notices.

A report from a forklift examiner in November 2018, which unearthed a Category A defect on a forklift, prompted a visit from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and resulted in Tahir Karim being sent to jail.

Images courtesy of the HSE

The failings at Long Life Spares in Caerphilly, south Wales, included forklift trucks with defective brake mechanisms and broken mast chains [part of the lifting mechanism], investigating inspector Sian Donne told IOSH magazine. ‘Access under a bridge structure was at risk of collapse on foot and in vehicles [pictured below], and access to the premises was directly beneath a structurally unsafe retaining wall,’ she added.

Between 2016-18 the HSE served 15 enforcement notices at the premises.

An investigation by the HSE found that Karim had failed to comply with all of the prohibition notices served. He was aware of the risks and directed workers to act in a way that contravened the prohibitions and risked their own safety Newport Crown Court was told.

The judge concluded that culpability was very high; the defendant flagrantly disregarded the law and put employees and members of the public at risk, putting cost before safety.

‘Although there was thankfully no injury, the sentencing guidelines are based on risk – the risk here being of serious personal injury or fatality,’ explained Sian. ‘Forklift trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles operated in any workplace. The defendant continued to use unsafe forklift trucks despite confirming to the HSE that he had ceased use of them and deliberately instructed employees to contravene the requirements of all Prohibition Notices showing contempt for the law and his workers, instructing employees to use the unsafe equipment or go home.’

The case was aggravated by the defendant cutting costs at the risk of safety, breaches lasted over a period of years. The history of non-compliance and absence of any remorse shown by the defendant supported the judge’s conclusion that there was no prospect of rehabilitation in this case and that it necessitated immediate imprisonment.

Tahir Karim pleaded guilty to four offences that contravened section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

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