A DUDLEY engineering company and its managing director have been fined for failing to protect their workers from welding fume.

Associated Metalmasters Limited and managing director Darren Spittle were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an inspection of the company’s former site at Woodside Industrial Estate, Pedmore Road, Dudley, in October 2021.

HSE inspectors found the company failed to put in place appropriate precautions to control the exposure of mild steel welding fume from metal inert gas (MIG) welding taking place at the site.

Breathing in welding fume can lead to asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer. A HSE investigation found Associated Metalmasters Limited initially complied with two improvement notices served by the workplace regulator in 2016 and 2019 - requiring the company to improve its MIG welding process.

However, the firm failed to sustain compliance with the notices which meant there was an inadequate control of exposure to welding fume.

Managing director Darren Spittle was in control of the MIG welding process and was aware of the improvement notices, the HSE said – adding that the company could have sustained compliance by ensuring industry standard controls for welding were provided and maintained.

Such controls would have likely included a local exhaust ventilation and respiratory protective equipment.

Associated Metalmasters Limited, of Grazebrook Industrial Park, Peartree Lane, Dudley, pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £3,896.30 in costs at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on September 13.

Darren Spittle, of Bright Street, Wollaston, Stourbridge, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 at Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court on September 13.

HSE inspector Heather Campbell said: “There are clear dangers from welding fume – remaining compliant with the law is not something that can tail off over time.

“This case shows prosecution will be considered if that happens.”