A building firm in London has been fined thousands of pounds for grossly exposing its workers to occupational lung disease, silicosis.
MY Construction & Carpentry Limited pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard for allowing its workforce to inhale Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) without warning them of the risks.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found numerous safety failings at the firm, including evidence that the work had not been adequately planned, managed or supervised.
Workers unaware of risks involved
MY Construction was undertaking a refurbishment at Netherall Gardens in London when the incident occurred, the court heard.
Members of staff had been found dry cutting around 250 bricks in a basement, during a proactive site inspection on July 5, 2016.
The HSE told the court how employees had not been made aware of the dangers to health associated with dust inhalation, and were not apprised of the correct controls prior to undertaking the task.
Additionally, the work was not being supervised by a competent supervisor, the magistrates were told.
Silicosis is a lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust that is associated with certain areas of work, such as mining, masonry and construction.
It causes irreversible inflammation and scarring in the upper lobes of the lungs which leads to persistent coughing, relentless shortness of breath and in severe cases it can cause respiratory failure.
Prentiss Clarke-Jones, an HSE inspector, spoke after the hearing, saying: “Over 500 construction workers are believed to die from exposure to silica dust every year. It is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos.
“This number can be reduced by those in control of the work through adequate planning, managing and monitoring of the work on site.”
The construction and carpentry company, of High Street, Waltham Cross pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
It has been fined £40,000 plus costs of £2,313.10.
Mr Clarke-Jones added: “MY Construction has been repeatedly warned by HSE about the dangers of silica, and has today been held to account for failing to take adequate action to protect the health and safety of its workers.”
Reference: The Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: January 14, 2018
Author: Jackie Kingsley