Fumes may have caused staff to suffer personal injury
An investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an Inspector visited the premises and discovered serious failings in the way the business was managing the risk of workers developing occupational asthma during soldering.
It has been reported that some employees soldered for up to four hours a day using rosin-based solder flux which has fumes known to be a significant cause of occupational asthma.
Despite previous advice given by the HSE, the company neglected to install an extraction system.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court also heard that the business did not consider whether a different, less hazardous solder could be used instead or install the control measures required for the safe use of rosin-based solder flux.
The company now uses a rosin-free solder.
An HSE Inspector said, “Companies have a duty to prevent the exposure of their employees to these fumes or, where this is not possible, to adequately control the exposure by the provision of suitable extraction and other control measures.
“In this case, a number of employees would have been significantly exposed to hazardous fumes and any health problems arising from it would not have been detected as there was no health surveillance procedure in place. Such surveillance is vital to enable symptoms to be detected early, which can help reduce the chances of developing asthma.”