East Yorkshire bakery fined over £150,000 after workers exposed to flour dust
A bakery company has been prosecuted for safety breaches after employees suffered long term exposure to flour dust, which is a respiratory sensitiser.
Between April 2002 and April 2016 employees were consistently exposed to risks to their health, with some being medically diagnosed as suffering from occupational asthma.
Flour dust is regarded as a hazardous substance. Workers in baking-related jobs may inhale flour dust when it becomes airborne. The dust can irritate the respiratory tract and lead to occupational asthma, also known as baker’s asthma. The health problems can have a latency period of over 30 years.
Flour dust can also cause an explosion, as finely ground flour is highly flammable.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found there was no effective method of control to prevent the dust becoming airborne and employees being exposed to breathing in the dust.
Coopland & Son (Scarborough) Ltd in Scarborough pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and has been fined £159,080 and ordered to pay £4,594 in costs
After the hearing, HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher commented, “Exposure to flour dust in an industrial setting can cause serious and debilitating health effects. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
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