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Property firm fined after ignoring woodworking risks

Date:
18 July 2014

A property maintenance firm has been fined after ignoring safety concerns at its joinery workshop in Dukinfield.

High Peak Remedial Services Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it failed to comply with an enforcement notice requiring its wood dust extractor to be properly tested.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court was told an HSE inspector issued an Improvement Notice during a routine visit to the Park Road workshop on 13 July 2013, after it emerged the company had not arranged a recent test of its extraction system.

Wood dust can cause serious health problems, including cancer of the nose, if it is inhaled. Woodworking firms are therefore required by law to put measures in place to prevent dust becoming airborne, and to make sure extractors are tested at least every 14 months.

The court heard High Peak Remedial Services was given just over eight weeks to comply with the enforcement notice, but asked for an extension on the day before it was due to expire. The firm was then given another four weeks to arrange a test but it again failed to meet the deadline.

High Peak Remedial Services Ltd, of Buxton Road in Stockport, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,662 after being found guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to comply with an Improvement Notice.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Emily Osborne said:

“High Peak Remedial Services put its employees’ health at risk by not arranging for its wood dust extraction system to be tested.

“We gave the firm several chances to arrange for an engineer to visit the workshop over a three-month period, but it failed to take any action. We therefore had no choice but to prosecute.

“The latest figures show carpenters and joiners are four times more likely to get asthma compared with other workers in the UK. I’d therefore urge firms to take the risks seriously and visit www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking to find out how their employees can stay safe.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It is an offence…to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk.

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