The British Woodworking Federation Group

Failing to test dust extraction systems leads to £15k fine for Essex joinery business in HSE wood dust clampdown

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An Essex firm has been fined a total of £15,000 for repeatedly failing to have its systems on its local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system for extracting wood dust and lifting equipment on its rider operated trucks thoroughly examined.

Failing to test dust extraction systems leads to £15k fine for Essex joinery business in HSE wood dust clampdownThe HSE prosecuted the business on 10th September at Chelmsford Magistrates Court and told the court previous enforcement notices had been issued on these matters and others over a period of ten years identified in a number of inspection visits to the company.

The company from South Woodham Ferrers (who are not BWF members) pleaded guilty to two breaches of Regulation 9(3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and one breach of Regulation 9(2) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

It was fined £5000 for each offence and ordered to pay total costs of £2240.50.

HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said: “This case sends out a clear message that HSE will prosecute when Inspectors find serious health and safety failings particularly when previous enforcement and advice has been provided. This year HSE is targeting the woodworking industry because of the significant health risks associated with wood dust exposure. I strongly urge such businesses to consult the HSE website for further information to ensure that control of exposure is managed and their statutory duties are complied with”.

LEV is used within most joinery workshops to control a wide range of potentially harmful substances which may include wood dust, gases and vapours, fume and solids. The 2002 COSHH Regulations require that thorough examination and testing of LEV systems in woodworking establishments is carried out at least once every 14 months, with records of all tests kept for at least five years. You can find out more on what you need to do here:

A timely reminder from HSE who have announced outline safety statistics for the year 2014/15.

 – 955 proactive calls were made by HSE Inspectors to woodworking factories, of which 41% identified material breaches of regulations which in turn attracted a Fee for intervention (FFI) charge from HSE. The Woodworking industry has the highest statistics in this respect.

 – 465 Improvement Notices and 54 Prohibition Notices were issued mainly in respect of LEV/Dust Extraction problems.

 – HSE’s Fee for Intervention (FFI) has between October 2012 and April 2014 cost the UK woodworking industry £430,000. 2014/2015 figures are awaited with interest.

Failing to test dust extraction systems leads to £15k fine for Essex joinery business in HSE wood dust clampdownThe safety of your workers is of prime importance. The BWF's comprehensive 91 page Guide to Health and Safety in the woodworking industry includes guidance on young persons in the workplace and with HSE recovering costs at a rate of £1000/day for inspections, during which a breach is found, BWF has prepared a number of resources to help you mitigate Health and Safety risk such as:

– A 12 point ‘Health and Safety: the essentials’ checklist to help prevent you getting caught out and advice on what HSE field inspectors are looking for in our Health and Safety publications.

– Our selection of woodworking machinery safety cards.

– Health and Safety training – including machine refresher training, Health & Safety management qualifications and more.

– As a member you can also ring our Health and Safety helpline on 0844 209 2610.

– Our Health & Safety Hero Campaign resources include short videos you can show to your staff, presentations you can adapt to your own company's health & safety processes and safety essential checklists you can give to each member of staff. There will be a new topic launched each month.

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