Furniture manufacturer fined over dust exposure

A furniture manufacturer has been fined for exposing its employees to ‘significant’ quantities of hardwood dust, following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Andrena Furniture Ltd of Geddings Road, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire 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 at Luton Magistrates’ Court last week. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £1,081.40.

In a hearing that concluded on Tuesday (2 May) the Court was told that employees of Andrena Furniture Ltd’s workshop were exposed to hardwood dust – a substance that can cause occupational asthma and nasal cancer – on a daily basis.

One of the reasons for the exposure to the substance substance, HSE claimed, was the company’s extraction system, which when tested during an inspection in 2016 was deemed ‘inefficient’.

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

Exposure

The investigation also found the company should have identified its workshop contained significant quantities of hardwood dust and then reduce exposure to its employees, including ensuring extraction was working efficiently and implementing a ‘robust’ cleaning regime.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias said: “Andrena Furniture Ltd 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.”

airqualitynews.com has contacted Andrena Furniture Ltd for comment.