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Firm fined for silica failings despite previous warning

Date:
12 May 2014

A natural stone supply firm has been fined for failing to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances – despite a previous warning.

Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL) was today (12 May) prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failings identified in an inspection of its Barnard Castle premises on 16 October 2012.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard that exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS), a substance that can cause fatal lung diseases, was not being adequately controlled.

Inspectors also found that the required health surveillance for the silica was not being carried out by the company.

The court was told that a previous inspection in 2007 identified similar concerns, and that the company was given advice on suitable control measures.

The HSE investigation established that despite tests revealing a high level of exposure to silica in 2007, little action had been taken to improve the control measures in order to reduce exposure.

The 2012 inspection also identified that equipment was not maintained in efficient working order, in good repair and was not in a clean condition.

The court also heard that although health surveillance on employees was carried out once in 2007, no further health surveillance was provided for employees exposed to RCS.

Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL), of Harmire Road, Barnard Castle, County Durham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,525.40 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sal Brecken said:

“Cutting stone can cause a lot of dust, which, if it is not controlled, can cause serious health effects – the most serious being silicosis which in its most acute form can be fatal.

“There is plenty of guidance available for stonemasons to help them improve existing control measures, and the health risks from silica dusts are insignificant when exposure to dust is properly controlled.

“There is no need to become ill through work activities and there is no excuse for companies not following the guidance. Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd should have done more following the guidance offered to them by the HSE in 2007.”

For more information about the control of substances hazardous to health log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/index.htm

Notes to Editors

1) The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2) Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 states: “Every employer shall ensure that the exposure of his employees to substances hazardous to health is either prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled.”

3) HSE press releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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