Dust And Dirt Sees Wood Window Maker Walloped

A joinery firm in south-east London, which specialises in bespoke wooden windows, has been fined £14,000 for health and safety failings, including putting its workers at risk of exposure to wood dust.

Sidcup based DLD Joinery Limited was inspected by the Health & Safety Executive in May 2022 as part of the workplace regulator’s ‘Dust Kills’ campaign, which targets woodworking businesses due to the significant health risks associated with wood dust.


Dusty and dirty

During the inspection, the HSE inspector identified multiple failings related to control of exposure to wood dust, including excessive levels of settled dust around the site, as well as unguarded woodworking machinery and unclean toilets.

Some of the company’s local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems, which are used to extract wood dust at source during machining of wood, were damaged and the arrangements to clean up residual wood dust not captured by these systems were ineffective.

The company had also failed to carry out repairs to its LEV systems recommended by external examiners four years previously to ensure they would extract wood dust more effectively.

In addition, the employee toilets were extremely dirty and there was no system in place to ensure they were regularly cleaned. The company had been served with enforcement notices relating to its control of exposure to wood dust on two previous occasions, in 2009 and 2014.


Improvement notices

Following the inspection in May 2022, the company was served with four ‘Improvement Notices’ by the HSE. However, the firm failed to comply with two of these notices, which related to face-fit testing for respiratory protective equipment and health surveillance for occupation asthma, by the deadlines set by the inspector.

Due to the number of issues identified, the HSE opened an investigation into the company’s failure to comply with Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, as well as its failure to comply with the Improvement Notices.


Fines & costs

DLD Joinery pleaded guilty to the breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc, as well as failing to comply with two Improvement Notices. The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £5,092.62 in costs at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 14 December 2023.

HSE inspector Gordon Carson said: “This case sends out a clear message to the industry that we will prosecute when inspectors find serious health and safety failings, particularly when previous enforcement and advice has been provided.

“Exposure to wood dust causes various occupational lung diseases which can significantly affect the quality of people’s lives and in some cases result in premature death.”

HSE has guidance on working in the woodworking industry and is running the Dust Kills: Wood Dust campaign page, which provides free advice to businesses and workers on the control measures required to prevent exposure to dust.


Picture: DLD Joinery has been fined for not controlling dust and the risk to the respiratory safety of employees. The firm also creates bespoke fitted bedrooms and kitchens alongside its windows and doors.


Article written by Brian Shillibeer
18th January 2024


Related Articles