Dangerous working practices were uncovered at the yard of Simpson Eco Skips in Park Royal, London.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspected the depot in July 2011 and identified a number of serious issues.
This week Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that HSE inspectors witnessed a worker descending a 10m-high stack of skips with nothing to prevent or mitigate a fall. He had clambered up to attach a crane hook to a shackle.
A second worker then climbed up and down a smaller stack just a few metres away, seemingly oblivious to the risks.
HSE established that the clearly-dangerous practice was indicative of poor management and a lack of competence and training.
Simpson Eco Skips also failed to produce a valid certificate for the crane in use at the time to confirm it had been properly examined and was in good working order, as required by law.
Inspectors served five improvement notices requiring changes to be made, all of which were subsequently complied with.
Simpson Eco Skips Ltd, registered to Neasden Goods Yard, Neasden Lane, NW10, was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £1,260 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing HSE inspector Neil Fry said: "Standards for controlling risks arising from working at height, as well as the general management of health and safety, can be pretty poor in the skip hire sector – as was clearly the case at Simpson Eco Skips.
"The failings we uncovered were for technical breaches, but workers could have been seriously hurt or possibly even killed as a consequence of the dangerous practices and lack of safety awareness and provisions.
"The onus is on dutyholders to take proactive steps to protect and safeguard their workforce and others before an incident occurs."