Joinery company fined £25,000
A woodworking and joinery company has been fined £25,000 after failing to control its employees’ exposure to wood dust.
Wood dust, when inhaled, can be incredibly dangerous and cause long-term respiratory problem, including occupational asthma.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has the right to enter any UK business premises to assess health and safety risks to workers. An inspection visit to The Joinery Yard, Norwich, in 2019 identified that the employer did not have sufficient controls in place to prevent exposure to wood dust. The HSE took enforcement action at the time.
The HSE returned in July 2022 and discovered that the company had not maintained sufficient standards to protect workers. Enforcement action was taken again and the company was taken to Court.
The Company pled guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £25,000, plus costs of £2682. They will also assume legal liability for any long-term health consequences amongst the exposed workers.
Following the hearing, an HSE Inspector, Natalie Prince, said “The fine imposed on The Joinery Yard Limited should underline to everyone in the woodworking industry that the courts, and HSE, take a failure to follow the regulations extremely seriously.
“Wood dust can cause serious health problems and all businesses need to protect their workers’ respiratory health.
“We will not hesitate to take action against companies which do not do all that they should to keep people safe”.
The HSE has free information for businesses on the relevant exposure levels and controls that should be considered by employers. They also provide free information about health surveillance and other mitigations.