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A furnishings company based in Keighley has been fined after a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that it had failed in its responsibility to protect its workers from excessive volumes with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as ear defenders.

The investigation into foam and feather furnishings company Fibreline Ltd found that since 2006 and 2013, the firm had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment. In 2008, the investigation told Bradford Crown Court that noise levels were at an excessive level since at least 2008, where the addition of a new machine created noise levels up to three times the allowed maximum.

The court heard how Fibreline should have been aware of the noise levels its staff were being subjected to and thus mandated them to wear personal hearing protection. However, this was only made compulsory for staff from last year.

In addition to the risk assessment and PPE provisions, the HSE also reported that a health surveillance programme should have been in operation. This too was not brought in until 2013, resulting in 40 members of staff having to have a hearing test.

Ear protection safety workwear is essential in such environments, with prolonged exposure to such extremes of sound volumes a recognised issue. With the levels at Fibreline also continuous through the day, the risk to health and welfare was even further exacerbated.

Having admitted to a breach of health and safety laws, the firm was handed down a fine of £15,000 together with costs of £4,457.

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