A NEWPORT firm which in May was fined more than £200,000 for breaching health and safety rules is to lay off six staff to cover the cost of the fine.

In May Asset International Ltd was handed a £200,000 fine for failing to give employees at its Stephenson Street factory proper training and ignoring concerns, leaving many with injuries to hands and arms. The company was also ordered to pay £27,724.28 in costs to the Health and Safety Executive.

Now the company has written to employees saying, as a result of the fine, resultant personal injury claims and a downturn in business, it was considering cutting six jobs – three in its fabrication and welding department and another three in its site welding sector.

A letter seen by the Argus, believed to have been given out to staff last month, said the business had faced “various challenges” since the start of 2016.

“As we make this announcement we see ourselves almost 20 per cent under our sales budget and 12 per cent down on the same period (January to June) last year,” it said.

“Furthermore, as you are aware, we have received a fine plus costs of £227,000 for the HAVS (hand-arm vibration syndrome) issue and we have received personal injury claims of which we as a company have to pay the first £25,000 per claim, thus giving us a further large potential liability in which the company will have to pay.

“Unfortunately, these events have deemed it necessary to carry out a restructure and downsizing.”

The letter continues staff will not be able to apply for voluntary redundancy, with jobs to be cut no earlier than Sunday, August 14.

“We are very sorry to have to make this announcement and assure you we will proceed as diligently and sensitively as we are able,” it said.

The firm's managing director Simon Thomas said: “In order to ensure the business remains both sustainable and competitive in the long term it is our policy to frequently review costs which allows us to make judgements on our current and projected performance.

"Often this results in having to make difficult decisions, as is the case with these six redundancies.

"However, we are confident that this onerous decision will secure the future sustainability of the firm and give us a solid basis on which to move forward.”