HSE warning over poorly maintained vehicles

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned operators to ensure vehicles are maintained in a safe condition after a company director was banned for knowingly exposing employees to unsafe working conditions.

Preston Crown Court heard that Zarif Mohammed allowed the continued use of the same seriously damaged machine on a Blackburn waste transfer site, despite having a conviction for transport-related health and safety offences following a fatality in 2013.

Mohammed has also been subjected to further enforcement action in 2017 for using a poorly maintained and damaged telehandler.

An HSE investigation in November 2018 found the telehandler was being used without working reverse lights, a camera or mirrors, which presented a serious risk of people being struck and seriously injured as the driver would not be able to see adequately while reversing the vehicle.

Mohammed pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

He was also ordered to undertake 190 hours of unpaid work with a further six rehabilitation days and he was struck off from working as a company director for five years.

HSE inspector Steven Boyd said “Mr Mohammed had been previously convicted by the HSE following a fatality at a previous company of which he was a director and then was served additional enforcement by the HSE on a visit to a new company of which he was a director.

Boyd added: “Workplace transport incidents remain a major cause of fatal and serious injuries in the waste and recycling industry.

“It is important that vehicles are maintained in a safe condition.”

Director disqualified for “amateur forgeries”

A Wolverhampton haulier who maintained “a bare-faced lie” by insisting forged documents were genuine roller brake test results, has been disqualified for five years.

Hardeep Singh, sole director of MFC Transport, is banned from holding or obtaining an operator’s licence and from being the director of any company until 2024 after TC Nicholas Denton said it was difficult to exaggerate the seriousness of his conduct.

The operator had appeared at public inquiries in 2016 and in February 2019, during which it received a licence curtailment and then a suspension for very high MOT and prohibition rates and the use of an unauthorised operating centre.

In July 2019, the TC received an audit report which noted that no roller brake tests were being carried out at MFC Transport, despite specific undertakings given by the operator in February.

At a subsequent PI in October, Singh presented 12 roller brake test print-outs from Midlands Truck & Van Wolverhampton; however, on closer inspection it became obvious they were “clearly amateur forgeries”, littered with spelling errors and with nine out of the 12 printouts showing exactly the same measured vehicle weight and with exactly the same weights and results for each axle.

The TC said they “stretched credulity well beyond breaking point.”

TC Denton adjourned the PI to make inquiries at Midland Truck & Van Wolverhampton, but he told Singh that if the documents weren’t genuine he should say so now.

He insisted they were genuine.

However, the dealer said only two roller brake tests had been carried out on MFC Transport’s vehicles since the February PI.

Despite this, Singh continued to maintain that all the tests had been carried out, but he had paid cash to the person who did the tests.

In his written decision, TC Denton said he was not convinced: “I find that the vehicles have not been given roller brake tests every six weeks, contrary to the undertaking given at the February 2019 inquiry,” he said.

“Worse, I find that the documents purporting to show such tests are forgeries. I find that Hardeep Singh either produced these forgeries himself or conspired to produce them.”

He revoked the licence but, in a “close-run decision”, he held back from removing transport manager Karyn Sanghera’s repute, who had since resigned.