HSE prosecutes insulation firm for health and safety failings

A Welsh insulation manufacturer has been fined by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which carried out an investigation and found that the company’s control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) assessment was insufficient and therefore dangerous to employees’ health.

Natural Insulation (formerly Black Mountain Insulation), which makes insulation out of natural products such as sheep’s wool and hemp through an eco-friendly procedure, did not conduct an adequate risk assessment for processing hemp, which has been known to cause respiratory problems in poorly protected workers. The company also failed to adequately guard machinery.

The investigation by the HSE was carried out following an anonymous complaint.

If your business is involved in hazardous working environments, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of your employees. As well as good health and safety policies, your business should also consider employers’ liability insurance in addition to your general business insurance.

The court case was heard at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court. Natural Insulation pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment 1998 (PUWER) and Regulation 6 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

Natural Insulation was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay court costs totalling £59,000.

In addition to placing the proper insurance requirements in place, businesses might also want to consider acquiring the assistance of professional risk management consultants to advise them on minimising the chances of incidents like this one.