A Battersea laundry firm has been fined after ignoring instructions to make it easier and safer for workers to move heavy loads.

Niva UK (Ltd), trading as Sunbeam Laundry, failed to act on two separate Improvement Notices served by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a routine inspection of its premises at the London Stone Business Estate on the 6 May 2010.

The first Improvement Notice required the removal of bags of laundry and other items from walkways, including a stairway, and the entrance to a female staff toilet. The second required an urgent review and improvements to reduce the lifting and handling of laundry.

City of London Magistrates’ Court heard that when HSE made a return inspection two months later, Niva had done nothing to comply with either notice. Employees were still carrying heavy loads through blocked walkways and were routinely risking tripping and falling as a result.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Clare Hawkes said:

“The law requires employers to provide walkways that are clear of obstructions so employees can move around freely and safely without risking injury from trips and falls.

“Also where employees are at risk of injuring themselves from handling heavy and cumbersome loads, and from awkward postures, the employer must take action to reduce those risks. Yet Niva UK Ltd turned a blind eye to both of these requirements.

“HSE will continue to take action against companies who shirk their responsibilities in this way. Employers who do not comply with enforcement notices are very likely to find themselves in court, as was shown today.”

The company pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Section 33 (1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to take action and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,062 in costs.