County Durham car cleaning firm was putting workers 'at risk of electrocution'

Some of the company's electrical equipment posed a danger of electric shock. Credit: HSE

A car valeting company has been fined almost £50,000 after inspectors said it put workers at risk of electrocution.

UK Express Valeting Ltd at the Abraham Industrial Estate, Bishop Auckland, was inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in March 2022.

They found several electrical installations to be badly maintained and dangerous due to the lack of maintenance of equipment and failure to right issues found at a previous inspection.

The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £42,389.80 in costs at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court on 16 May 2023.

The 2022 visit came after a previous inspection in March 2020 which resulted in enforcement action being taken in relation to unsafe electrical installations and inadequate welfare facilities.

HSE served the company a prohibition notice, meaning the use of some of their work equipment posed a risk of electric shock or electrocution.

Inspector Clare Maltby said: "Companies are responsible for making certain that their electrical installation and equipment are maintained to prevent danger.

"All car wash and valeting centres must properly maintain their electrical installation and equipment.

"Failure to comply with enforcement notices is a serious offence and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute where companies fail to take the action required."

HSE also served the company with an improvement notice which required them to have an electrician undertake a thorough inspection and test of their equipment.

However, despite four other visits taking place over the following seven months of 2022, UK Express Valeting Limited failed to take any action.

At one of the visits it was noted that electrical installations had further deteriorated and two further prohibition notices were served on 26 July 2022.

This prohibited the use of a roller shutter garage door control and a vacuum cleaner - both of which exposed live conductors which could cause an electric shock or electrocution.

HSE inspectors were supported on visits to the company by police officers from North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU).

Following the investigation, Kev Benson, the North East GAIN Co-ordinator and Disruption Team Manager for NEROCU, is asking residents to be vigilant.

He said: "This is yet another example of the ongoing work with partners to safeguard workers. No one should have to work in conditions that are unsafe and a risk to themselves and others.

"Where necessary we will support action taken by partners to ensure no laws are being broken and any enforcement notices are complied with.

"I am asking members of the public to continue to remain vigilant and report any concerns or information you have about dangerous working conditions. By doing so you’re helping keep your community safe for everyone."

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