UK furniture retailer fined £400,000 for safety breaches

JB Global, the parent company of UK furniture manufacturer Oak Furnitureland, has been fined £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations, including DSEAR. Swindon Borough Council said that there was a significant risk of explosion at the Cheney Manor warehouse in Swindon, southwest England.

Cheney Manor warehouse – Image: Swindon Borough Council

According to the Swindon Advertiser, the local council’s compliance team started an investigation into the Oak Furnitureland warehouse in 2016 following complaints made by a worker. Officials found that the company, based in South Marston, was manufacturing room partitions in a highly explosive environment due to fumes caused by glues that were being used combined with a lack of ventilation in the warehouse.

Those working in the section of the warehouse, which was an unregistered activity, were equipped with faulty or broken face masks that were not of the classification that was required for the working conditions. The Swindon Advertiser reports the workers were susceptible to cancer-causing wood dust and that upon discovering the working conditions, council investigators immediately issued a Prohibition Notice.

JB Global pleaded guilty to six breaches of health and safety regulations in 2019. In court, it was said that the firm had failed to communicate the risks to staff of working in a potentially explosive environment with dangerous substances.

The manufacturer was also accused of disregarding the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) by failing to classify areas in the warehouse where an explosive atmosphere may be present.

JB Global was sentenced at Aldershot Magistrates’ Court on March 4 and fined £398,000, as well as order to pay around £95,000 in council costs.

In a statement, JB Global said: “Around four years ago, in order to support the rapid growth of the business, a small workshop where parts of our shop fittings were produced was opened. Regrettably at this time certain health and safety aspects of this new workshop were not fully understood. We fully accept we could and should have done better on this aspect of our operation.”

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