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Furniture manufacturer fined for exposing workers to hardwood dust

A long established furniture manufacturer has been fined by the HSE for exposing its employees to the risk of nasal cancer and occupational asthma.

Andrena Furniture Ltd, based in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire is a family owned business manufacturing high quality wooden furniture. Their website boasts that they combine traditional manufacturing methods with modern technology and guarantee that each piece is crafted to the highest of standards.

Unfortunately, these ethics did not extend to the health and welfare of their employees in the workshops who were repeatedly exposed to hardwood dust, a known cause of lung disease and nasal cancer, despite previous warnings and written advice from HSE inspectors.

Diane Parker, solicitor at Atherton Godfrey who specialises in work-related lung disease compensation claims, commented on the case: “An outdated and inefficient extraction system and a poor cleaning regime combined to expose workers to levels of dust that can have life-changing implications.

Breathing in dust from substances such as asbestos, wood, flour, even fur and feathers over a period of time can aggravate existing conditions such as asthma and can cause a number of potentially fatal lung diseases.”

Speaking after the hearing at Luton Magistrates Court, HSE inspector, Sandra Dias said: “Andrena Furniture Ltd was fully aware of the health and safety standards it needed to maintain.

This case should serve as a warning to others that HSE take seriously repeated breaches of health and safety law that exposes employees to health risks.”

Andrena Furniture pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations relating to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1081.40.

Author: Gail Harris