A natural stone supply firm has been fined £4,000 for failing to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances – despite a previous warning.
Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failings identified in an inspection of its Barnard Castle premises on 16th October 2012.
Darlington Magistrates’ Court was told that exposure to respirable crystalline silica, 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 County Durham-based 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.
Although health surveillance on employees was carried out once in 2007, no further health surveillance was provided for employees exposed to the silica.
Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL), of Harmire Road, Barnard Castle, County Durham, admitted breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and was also ordered to pay £2,525.40 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Sal Brecken said dust from cutting stone can cause serious health effects if it is not controlled.
“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,” she said.
“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.”