Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

October 8, 2014

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Keighley company failed to protect workers from excessive noise

A West Yorkshire firm specialising in foam and feather furnishings has been fined £15,000 after failing to protect its workforce from excessive noise levels made by production machinery.

An investigation showed that the company had not made a suitable assessment of the noise levels in the factory between 2006 and 2013.

It was heard on 7 October at Bradford Crown Court how noise levels at the Keighley-based Fibreline Ltd factory had become excessive from 2008 when a third machine was added to the feather pillow production process. Levels reached between two and three times higher than the maximum allowed. In addition to this, from 2011 excessive noise levels were reached 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, following a prosecution brought by HSE.

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.”

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