AN AGRICULTURAL company based on the county's border has been ordered by a court to pay £9,170 after breaching health and safety regulations.

An investigation into Hay & Brecon Farmers Ltd found that fork lift trucks were being driven by operators not wearing seat belts provided and keys were left in the ignitions of unmanned forklifts, thereby allowing anyone to jump onto and drive them.

Hay & Brecon Farmers Ltd were prosecuted by Powys County Council’s Environmental Health team after an investigation found that they had breached health and safety regulations.

Llandrindod Wells Magistrates Court heard last week that environmental health officers began an investigation in October 2015 following an accident to an employee involving a fork lift truck at the Hay & Brecon Farmers Ltd’s Brecon store. The company also has a store in Hay-on-Wye.

The investigation revealed that Hay & Brecon Farmers Ltd had failed to organise traffic routes in such a way that pedestrians including both employees and members of the public, could circulate in a safe manner, the court was told.

Fork lift trucks were operated in the same area as people with no separation of time, physical features, direction of flow or boundaries which exposed people to risks to their health and safety.

At the time of the initial investigation and contrary to the company’s own documented risk assessments, environmental health officers witnessed a lack of management control of workplace transport health and safety.

In court, Hay & Brecon Farmers Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 17 of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Regulation 5 of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The court ordered them to pay a £3,500 fine for each breach, £170 victim surcharge and £2,000 costs, bringing the fine and total costs to £9,170.

Cllr Jonathan Wilkinson, cabinet member for environmental health, said: “Hay & Brecon Farmers Ltd had a legal duty to make sure their employees and customers stay safe. This case should act as a warning to firms that they will find themselves in court if they do not take their health and safety responsibilities seriously.”