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Scotland's leading charity for the welfare of animals has been fined following breaches of health and safety regulations.

The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) was found guilty of failing to protect its workers. At the Middlebank Wildlife Centre, employees of the SSPCA were exposed to hazardous substances related to birds. The charity admitted breaching health and safety regulations when facing Dunfermline Sheriff Court recently.

The Middlebank centre, close to Dunfermline, closed in 2012, but had received lots of praise with regard to the work carried out to rehabilitate injured wildlife, including oiled birds. The Health and Safety Executive and the environmental health department of Fife Council carried out a series of investigations and found that employees were placed at risk of Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis (EAA), which is a lung condition contracted following exposure to feathers and bird droppings. Safeguards were not put in place to protect workers from harm.

The inspectors discovered a number of failings at the centre, which included workers not being supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as overalls and face masks. The employer failed to carry out assessments to identify when employees were working with hazardous substances, like the avian allergens. The reports also identified that the organisation failed to provide respiratory protective equipment, along with not ensuring that filtration, air ventilation or extraction systems were in place.

The organisation was fined £5,000 for its failure to protect the health and wellbeing of its workers.

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