Workers at a ceramic tile factory in North Wales have been put at risk of serious health problems after levels of lead in employees’ bloodstreams hit dangerous levels.
Staff working for specialist firm Craig Bragdy Design, in Denbigh, were tested following a routine visit by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The firm, which uses colour glazes containing lead to manufacture its tiles, was found to have been at fault for a number of serious safety failings, following an investigation by the HSE.
Llandudno Crown Court heard on 10 April how Craig Bragdy Design had mishandled its control of lead during the manufacturing process.
Tests carried out on staff following HSE’s inspection found three female workers had blood levels at or above the suspension limit – one of them significantly higher. The suspension limit is activated by law and means they should be withdrawn from working with lead until the concentration in their blood reduces naturally.
An additional five women and one man were found to be within the action level, which alerts employers that a worker is approaching the suspension level.
Lead exposure can lead to serious long-term health effects, including spontaneous abortion, still births and low birth weight before or during pregnancy. It can also cause anaemia, fatigue, headaches, convulsions and paralysis.
The HSE found that the company had failed to regulate the exposure to lead as well as failing to carry out a proper risk assessment of the work.
The company also did not offer medical surveillance for the workers and gave insufficient information and training.
The court fined Craig Bragdy Design Ltd of Colomendy Industrial Estate, Denbigh, which pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002, a total of £35,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £23,271.