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    HARDWOOD DUST CONTROL NOT MAINTAINED

    Manufacturer failed to examine and test local extraction system

    A furniture manufacturer has been fined after employees were exposed to significant quantities of hardwood dust, a hazardous substance known to cause occupational asthma and nasal cancer.

    Luton Magistrates heard how employees were exposed to hardwood dust on a daily basis and that the high levels of the hazardous substance was partly due to the dust extraction system, which when tested was found to be inefficient during a HSE inspection in 2016.

    HSE investigators also found that following previous visits, and verbal and written advice, the company failed to ensure standards achieved following previous inspections were maintained.

    Engineering control must be monitored

    The company should have identified that the workshop contained significant quantities of hardwood dust and taken steps to reduce employee exposure, including ensuring extraction was working efficiently and implementing a robust cleaning regime.

    • Andrena Furniture Ltd  – of Geddings Road, Hoddesdon, Herts pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 7(1) and 9(2)(a) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and was fined £8,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £1081.40.

    This regulation requires that where engineering controls are provided the employer must ensure that thorough examination and testing of those controls is carried out, on local exhaust ventilation plant, at least once every 14 months

    Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias said:

    “The company was fully aware of the health and safety standards it needed to maintain.

    Breathing in dust can cause life-changing lung disease or make existing conditions worse. Thousands of people die from work-related lung diseases every year, often due to continued exposure over a long period of time.

    Everyone has the right to go home healthy from work and employers must do the right thing to protect their workers and ensure this happens.

    This case should serve as a warning to others that HSE takes seriously repeated breaches of health and safety law that exposes employees to health risks.”

     

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