Company Prosecuted Over Noise Regulation Failures

Keighley Firm Fined Over Failure To Protect Staff From Noise

09.10.2014

A furniture company based in Keighley has been prosecuted after it exposed staff to excess levels of noise created by the production process.

Fibreline was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2013 and was found not to have carried out an adequate assessment of the noise levels at its factory on Hard Ings Road for seven years after 2006.

During this time, the company had added more noisy equipment, such as a third machine involved in the feather pillow production process in 2008 and the installation of two glueing booths side-by-side in 2011, which performed part of the foam fabrication process.

The first of these steps led to noise levels reaching between two and three times the maximum permitted level and the second of these raised the volume further. Despite the fact that Fibreline should have been aware that noise levels were such that mandatory hearing protection was needed in the vicinities of these machines, the company did not do so until last year.

It also failed to institute a health surveillance programme until 2013, when 40 members of staff were tested.

The HSE prosecuted the firm for these failings and Fibreline pleaded guilty in the hearing at Bradford Crown Court to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £15,000 and made to pay £4,457 in costs.

Commenting on the case, 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."

When such noise is inevitable, hearing protection and regular hearing checks must be provided, he added.

The most recent HSE figures indicate that between 2009-10 and 2011-12, 19,000 cases of noise-induced hearing loss were caused or made worse by workplace conditions.

If you or a loved one has suffered from hearing damage such as acoustic shock, tinnitus, and noise-induced hearing loss caused by conditions at work our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
This case highlights the need for employers to undertake the necessary risk assessments and take action to protect their workers from preventable injuries such as noise-induced hearing loss. We have seen first-hand the damaging impact exposure to high levels of noise can have on victims.

“Hopefully, this successful HSE prosecution will highlight the need for employers to conduct the necessary risk assessments to analyse the noise levels within their premises and, if necessary, take action to reduce noise levels or provide workers with protective equipment.”
Mark Allen, Associate Director