A consultant whose lax practices caused employees at Henry Venables Ltd to be exposed to illegally-high levels of hardwood dust has been fined £1,000 plus £2,000 costs.

Stephen Lockwood, trading as Environmental Monitoring Consultants, pleaded guilty at Stafford Magistrates’ Court to breaches of regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994. Mr Lockwood admitted failing to accurately monitor and report levels of hardwood dust at the Stafford premises of Venables and that this caused Venables to commit an offence under section 36(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

Employers are required by the regulations to keep employee exposure below set levels and to reduce hardwood dust.

The court heard that sampling carried out by Mr Lockwood in January 1997 was not done in accordance with suitable procedures. As a result, insufficient and unrepresentative samples of employee exposure to hardwood dust were taken. This misled Henry Venables into believing that exposure to wood dust was adequately controlled.