A firm specialising in foam and feather furnishings has been fined after failing to protect its workforce from excessive noise levels made by production machinery.
Keighley-based Fibreline Ltd was prosecuted today (7 Oct) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Bradford Crown Court for breaching health legislation.
The court was told that an investigation by HSE at the firm’s premises on Hard Ings Road found the company had not made a suitable assessment of the noise levels in the factory between 2006 and 2013.
Noise levels had become excessive from 2008 when a third machine was added to the feather pillow production process, reaching between two and three times higher than the maximum allowed; and from 2011 in the foam fabrication process when two glue-spraying booths were located side by side.
Fibreline Ltd, as an employer, should have known its workforce was being subjected to loud noise, and made personal hearing protection compulsory in the two areas when the production changes were made. However, wearing hearing protection was not introduced until 2013.
In addition a health surveillance programme for noise exposure should have been operating for affected workers, but this was not brought in until 2013, when 40 employees had to be given a hearing test.
Fibreline Ltd, Victoria Park Mills, Hard Ings Road, Keighley, West Yorkshire, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £4,457 in costs after admitting a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector David Welsh said:
“Prolonged exposure to excessive and often constant levels of noise where people work day after day is a recognised threat to health and can lead to noise-induced hearing loss – a condition that can be severely debilitating.
“It is very important for employers to do what is required to prevent employees from being exposed to potentially harmful noise levels. If such exposure cannot be prevented, then they must ensure that workers are wearing the right kind of personal hearing protection and receive regular health checks.”
Advice on exposure and noise levels at work can be found on HSE’s website: http://www.hse.gov.uk
Notes to Editors:
- 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
- Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”