19th October 2023
Furniture Company Fined After Exposing Staff To Wood Dust
A furniture manufacturer has recently been fined £16,000 after it repeatedly failed to protect its employees from exposure to wood dust.
The Cheshire-based company was inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on two separate occasions over a two-year period – with both identifying identical breaches.
An initial visit to the factory by HSE Inspectors was undertaken as part of their national inspection campaign for woodworking businesses. Whilst here the HSE found significant health and safety breaches which resulted in six improvement notices being served.
Amongst others, these included requirements for the company to undertake statutory examinations of its wood dust extraction systems and to undertake face fit testing for those employees required to wear tight-fitting face masks.
However, when HSE inspectors visited the site to check on the progress of the improvement notices, they found identical breaches and again further improvement notices were served.
The significant occupational health risks associated with wood dust and the continued failure to ensure control of exposure to wood dust resulted in HSE prosecuting the company.
The Company attended Chester Magistrates Court on 11th October 2023 where they pleaded guilty to breaching The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002. They were fined £16,000 and were ordered to pay £3008 costs.
After the hearing, the HSE inspector involved in the case said: “Wood dust is a substance hazardous to health because it can cause serious non-reversible health problems, including asthma; dermatitis; and irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.
“It is important to carry out statutory thorough examinations of extraction equipment and ensure face fit testing, as required by COSHH to help prevent ill health.
“We will not hesitate to take enforcement action when necessary to make sure workers’ health is protected.”
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