East Yorkshire bakery business Coopland & Son has been fined almost £160,000 after exposing its staff to flour dust.

Employees at Coopland & Son (Scarborough) Ltd of Pindar Business Park, Eastfield, Scarborough, suffered long-term exposure to flour dust between April 2002 and April 2016, Leeds Magistrates Court was told.

The bakery has since taken action to address the issue, Coopland & Son told British Baker following the hearing, in which it pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety Work Act.

The case followed an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that found there was no effective method of control to prevent dust becoming airborne and employees being exposed to breathing it in.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £159,080 and ordered to pay £4,594 in costs.

Following the case, a spokesperson for Coopland & Son said the company had been undertaking health surveillance and monitoring flour dust levels as required under the law, but was subsequently found to be operating under incorrect advice.

“Measures have since been introduced to address the issues raised,” added the spokesperson. “We regret that we have fallen short of our usual high standards after 133 years with an unblemished health and safety record.”

Based in Scarborough, Coopland & Son operates around 150 retail stores and employs 1,500 staff.

Exposure to flour dust in an industrial setting can cause serious and debilitating health effects, said HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher following the case.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards,” he added.