A Burnley-based firm has been fined £16,000 after it failed to take measures to protect the hearing of employees exposed to loud noise on a daily basis.
According to The Lancashire Telegraph, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ordered Equestrian Surfaces Ltd to reduce noise levels at its factory, but the firm ignored the warning.
Employees of the company, which creates flooring for horse riding arenas, were required to spend several hours a day working near a machine capable of producing noises of up to 98 decibels.
The HSE gave Equestrian Surfaces two extensions to an Improvement Notice, but safety changes made by the firm were insufficient and workers remained exposed to high levels of noise.
Following prosecution by the HSE, Equestrian Surfaces was found guilty of breaching health and safety rules and was ordered to pay court costs of £10,000 in addition to the £16,000 fine.
HSE inspector Matthew Lea explained that noise-induced hearing loss worsens over time, so Equestrian Surfaces may find itself subject to industrial injuries claims in the future if any of its employees were to suffer lasting damage.
“Noise-induced hearing loss is a degenerative condition and the ear cannot repair itself. It’s therefore important that employers take these dangers seriously as there is no going back once hearing is damaged,” Mr Lea said in a statement on the HSE website.
“Equestrian Surfaces could have taken a number of simple practical steps to reduce noise exposure but chose instead to rely on just using basic ear protectors, which in effect is the last line of defence,” he added.