Soldering staff exposed to fumes

27 Oct 2011

A road and rail signs specialist has been fined for failing to protect its employees from fumes that are known to cause asthma.

Variable Message Signs Limited, based in Hebburn, South Tyneside, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it discovered staff were being exposed to hazardous fumes during soldering work.

Inspectors noted that test engineers were using rosin based solder flux for soldering, which produces fumes linked to the development of occupational asthma.

South Tyneside Magistrates' Court heard that there was no extraction system in place as staff completed soldering work for around four hours a day - despite previous advice being issued by the HSE.

The firm was accused of both failing to explore using a different solder, and taking the necessary safety precautions to alleviate the dangers of using rosin based solder flux.

HSE inspectors also found that the company was failing to provide adequate health surveillance, which it is legally required to do when there is a possibility of staff developing asthma.

Variable Message Signs Ltd admitted three breaches of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and was fined £5,500, with £4,291.25 in legal costs.

Since the soldering hazards were pointed out to the South Tyneside company, it has started using a rosin-free solder.

Copyright Press Association 2011

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