Company fined thousands for illegal machinery use

Construction of a new store in Cheltenham has stopped, as one company has been fined heavily for using machinery on the site without a permit.

David L. Dennis Ltd, a Gloucestershire plant hire business, have been fined £2,000 for using a stone crusher without a permit. The crusher was being used to level the North Place car park that was due to have been the new Morrison’s store. Morrison’s, the 4th most popular store in the UK, spent millions to build a new store in Cheltenham. The new store building process was stopped for an unknown reason and now is being replaced with a new car park.

The people of Cheltenham had argued that the original car park was beneficial and necessary, so when the Cheltenham Borough Council agreed, they decided to work with the current owners of North Place to rebuild it.

Gareth Jones, a senior environment health officer at Cheltenham Borough Council, was made aware that David L. Dennis were operating a crusher (a machine which breaks down larger rocks into gravel). Jones quickly set off to North Place to find out what was happening and why they were operating with no authorisation from the council.

An employee from the plant hire business was operating the crusher when he arrived, and noticed that the crusher was not being manoeuvred with the skills and care necessary and compulsory for the machine. Dust was thick in the air; a permitted worker should have used water to help control the dust for health and safety.

Cheltenham Borough Council learned that the employee didn’t have a permit for this machine, and he told them that he didn’t know he needed one. Jones then spoke to the business administrator who explained that she was unaware that they needed a permit, despite working in the business for thirty years.

Cheltenham Borough Council and Forest of Dean district council took the business to Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court, where they pleaded guilty for using a crusher without a permit. The business is to pay £2000 and £1200 in costs as they didn’t comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998).

Gareth Jones said: “My message that I want to get across is that the council are happy for the business to be using these machines if they have a permit for it.”

The Newent-based Company, David L Dennis Ltd, declined to comment on the situation.

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