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SILCA DUST RISK PROSECUTED UNDER COSHH REGS

Control and health surveillance advice from HSE not implemented

Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL), a natural stone supply firm, has been fined after failing to protect workers from exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) despite previous warnings. The failings were identified during an HSE 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 HSE inspection in 2007 identified similar concerns, and that the company was given advice on suitable control measures. 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.

RCS health risk insignificant when exposure controlled

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.”

 

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