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Firm fined over £150,000 after workers suffer from exposure to flour dust

A bakery company has been fined for safety breaches after employees suffered long term exposure to flour dust.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that 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.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the Coopland & Son (Scarborough) Ltd, had no effective method of control to prevent the dust becoming airborne and employees being exposed to breathing in the dust.

The company 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.”

The most commonly cited causes of occupational asthma are isocyanates (chemicals widely used in manufacturing), followed by flour.  One in 10 cases of asthma occurring in adults is caused by work-related factors.   The symptoms include breathing difficulties, tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing.

As well as having distressing and uncomfortable symptoms, occupational asthma could be severe enough to cause employees to miss work for prolonged periods and have a negative impact on social, domestic life, hobbies and sports.

If your employer has not implemented proper prevention and control systems in relation to substances that can cause occupational asthma and you become unwell as a result, then we would recommend that you seek legal advice.

Work Claims Bureau can start to put you on the right track to deal with any changes a work-related injury or illness brings.  For a free consultation, call our specialist team today on 08082565184 or use our contact form.

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If you’ve had an accident at work, you should get in touch with our specialist team as soon as possible.  We’ll take the details we need and explain the next steps. We always recommend you take the following steps, but don’t worry if there’s something here you haven’t done:

  • Complete an accident report and inform your Health and Safety representative at work
  • If you are still in pain, shock, or distress when the report is completed, do not sign it.
  • Keep details of anyone who witnessed the accident.
  • If possible, as soon as you can, ask your Health and Safety representative to take photos of the scene and make them available to you.
  • Write down your recollection of exactly what happened in the accident, including the location and approximate time.

Work Claims Bureau prides itself on progressing your claim promptly whenever it is possible to do so. No two claims are the same. How long your claim lasts is dependent on a number of factors, including:

  • The prognosis for your injuries
  • The conduct of all parties involved
  • Whether your employer admits they were at fault or if we need to fight your case on your behalf

Bearing this in mind, work accident claims typically take between 6 months and 24 months to conclude.  However, this is not ‘written in stone’, and they can last a shorter or longer time than this.

Your employer faces further culpability if they take disciplinary action against you or terminate your employment simply because you make an honest claim for personal injury. There is legislation in place to protect you. You are doing the right thing in reporting your accident and formally submitting a claim, both for yourself and for your employer in helping prevent similar accidents happening in the future.

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