Occupational lung disease causes the death of 12,000 people in Great Britain annually, and there are an estimated 19,000 new cases of breathing and lung problems each year, where individuals regarded their condition as being caused or made worse by work.
The first Norfolk based woodworking company has been fined £25,000 for failing to control its employees’ exposure to wood dust.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection of the company in November 2019 identified failings in the company’s control measures to prevent exposure of their employees to wood dust. As a result, enforcement action was taken.
The second company, a furniture business, was fined over multiple wood dust failures and fined £16,000.
Following HSE’s inspection programme as part of their focus on the woodworking industry, the furniture company has been fined £16,000 after it repeatedly failed to protect its employees from exposure to wood dust.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Ian Betley said:
“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.”
Occupational exposure to dust, even at low doses, is a risk to workers’ health because it is significantly associated with respiratory symptoms. It is known that the length of exposure to airborne substances (dust, gases, vapours, or chemicals) is directly related to the likelihood of respiratory problems, as well as that of asthma, lung cancer, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and other interstitial lung diseases.
Wood dust is a respiratory sensitiser that can cause long term health effects including occupational asthma.
The importance of COSHH risk assessments
Each year, thousands of workers fall ill due to hazardous substances that can cause lung disease, cancer, and skin disease. These diseases cost millions of pounds to businesses that would have to replace skilled workers, or worse, deal with civil claims.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations require employers to take effective measures to control exposure and protect employee health.
Exposure to harmful substances can occur in a wide range of work environments, from manufacturing, quarries and waste processing, to hospitals, workshops, and offices.
How can Safety First help?
It’s critical it is to safeguard your personnel against the health risks posed by wood dust. Our comprehensive wood dust testing and monitoring solutions are made to evaluate and manage exposure hazards, enabling you to establish wood dust control procedures that will make your workplace safer and healthier.
We will aid your compliance with COSHH regulations (the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) by devising the correct wood dust exposure monitoring & testing for your organisation and its unique requirements & circumstances, to ensure the safety of your staff.
Industries that are prone to regular exposure to a variety of harmful substances such as chemicals, fumes, dusts and fibres, are required to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations to provide safe working environments for your employees. Our specialist team is highly qualified in the different methods of monitoring exposure. No matter how complex the issue, Safety First can find the right sampling strategy for you.
Safety First can also carry out LEV inspection and testing in the workplace to help companies ensure that they are fully compliant with COSHH regulations.
Our qualified occupational hygienists are experts in local exhaust ventilation systems. They will monitor and analyse system performance data, as well as perform qualitative evaluations on the control of potential contaminants. Measurements from the test results are compared with the original LEV specification and performance criteria outlined in HSG258.
Safety First will produce reports and records that will assist your business in improving control measures, plus serve as evidence of your company’s compliance with COSHH regulations.
Further wood dust control can be found here.
Get in touch
Contact our friendly team of experts to find out more about occupational exposure monitoring or LEV inspection and testing.
Sources used: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6733730/https://press.hse.gov.uk/2023/10/11/northwich-furniture-company-fined-over-multiple-wood-dust-failures/?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=woodworking-dust-2023&utm_term=pr-1&utm_content=woodworking-27-nov-23