Exposed to Silica

After failing to provide employees with adequate control measures to prevent exposure to respirable crystalline silica, A playground installation and landscaping contractor has been fined.

On the 23rd March 2018, Greater Manchester Magistrates heard how the Health and Safety Executive carried out an unannounced inspection of a site at Newbank Garden Centre, Bury Road,Radcliffe. They had served a Prohibition Notice to stop two employees of Playscape Design Ltd, using a powered tool to cut flags without any respiratory protective equipment, This was putting a risk upon the employees due to exposure of RCS which is released when silica-containing materials are cut with a powered tool.

After this the HSE then served an Improvement Notice, which meant that the company adequate control from exposure to RCS. They later found that the company did not provide any evidence of compliance within the deadline, following on from the first notice, the company completed a second similar job with no adequate control measures in place.

Pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and further admitting to not complying with an improvement Notice, which is an offence under Section 33(1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Playscape Design Limited of Ball Grove Drive, Colne, Lancashire were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

Rebecca Hamer, an inspector for HSE, said after the hearing: ” The working conditions we encountered were putting te health of the employees at risk due to exposure to RCS, which is released when silica-containing materials are cut with a powered tool. 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”

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