Recycling Company Fined for Wood Dust Hazards

A recycling company has been fined £160,000 for endangering its employees through exposure to wood dust.

Esken Renewables Limited, based in Middlesbrough, was found by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to have failed in designing processes to minimise the spread of wood dust.

According to the HSE, inhaling wood dust can lead to asthma and nasal cancer.

The company admitted to breaching regulations related to the control of hazardous substances at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

An HSE inspector visited the Port Clarence Road site in April 2022 after concerns were raised about the spread of wood dust to the surrounding area.

Esken Renewables claimed the exposure was due to four storms, a factor acknowledged by the HSE.

However, the investigation revealed that the company’s measures to control wood dust and protect employees were inadequate and did not meet the expected standards.

“The company failed to design and operate processes and activities to minimise the emission, release, and spread of wood dust,” stated the HSE.

Breathing in wood dust can cause asthma and nasal cancer, warned the HSE.

Esken Renewables Limited pleaded guilty to violating a regulation concerning the control of substances hazardous to health.

The company was fined £160,000, ordered to pay £5,310.35 in costs, and given a £190 victim surcharge.

Esken Renewables emphasised that employee wellbeing is a “top priority.”

A spokesperson for the company expressed disappointment in not meeting regulatory requirements and their own high standards of employee care and protection on this occasion.

“We’re constantly revising our policies and procedures to ensure compliance with all regulations and to provide the highest standards of protection for everyone who works for us,” said the spokesperson.

Esken Renewables was acquired by Pioneer Balmoral UK in December 2023. The spokesperson noted that health and safety is one of Pioneer Balmoral’s “core principles.”