Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how on 23 March 2018, the HSE carried out an unannounced inspection of a site in Radcliffe.
The HSE inspector served a Prohibition Notice to stop two employees of Playscape Design Ltd using a powered tool to cut flagstones without any respiratory protective equipment.
This put the health of the employees at risk due to exposure to RCS, which is released when silica-containing materials are cut with a powered tool.
HSE then served an Improvement Notice, requiring the company to provide adequate control from exposure to RCS.
The investigation found the company did not provide evidence of compliance within the deadline and a second, similar job was completed at the same site with no adequate control measures in place.
Playscape Design Limited of Lancashire, pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
HSE inspector Rebecca Hamer, said after the hearing: “Exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause life-threatening diseases including silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which can lead to impaired lung function, lung cancer and death.
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
A Parliamentary inquiry was launched this week into the impact that silicosis has on construction workers and their families.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Respiratory Health is working with B&CE to understand why construction workers’ lives continue to be claimed by silicosis.
The inquiry will call on expert clinicians, campaigners, industry bodies, academics and government to help Ministers gain a greater understanding of the disease, to discover more about the financial burden it places on the NHS and the challenges it presents to productivity in the workplace.