A BURNLEY firm which put employees’ hearing at risk by having them work next to a noisy machine has been fined £16,000.

Equestrian Surfaces Ltd, which makes flooring for horse riding centres, were told by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officials to reduce the daily noise exposure levels at its Phoenix Way factory.

Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard that the Improvement Notice was issued after HSE officials found that staff had to work for several hours a day near a granulator machine, which is capable of reaching volumes of up to 98 decibels – as loud as a chainsaw.

Despite being given two extensions to that notice the firm failed to put any measures in place to reduce workers’ exposure to noise.

A further HSE visit with an independent scientist found that, although some changes had been made, the employees’ daily noise exposure remained high and the changes fell short of what could and should have been achieved.

As a result a prosecution was brought and the firm was ordered to pay £16,000.

HSE Inspector Matthew Lea said: “This prosecution highlights the responsibilities that employers have to looking after their employees.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is a degenerative condition and the ear cannot repair itself.”

Equestrian Surfaces Ltd, based in Phoenix Way, had pleaded guilty to breaching Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to comply with an Improvement Notice.

The manufacturer was also ordered to pay £11,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.