12 October 2007
Company fined after worker contracts disease
A north-east company has been fined after one of its employees contracted a potentially fatal disease.
Following a routine and unannounced inspection, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector discovered that the worker had contracted silicosis, an occupational lung disease that occurs as a result of dust containing silica being inhaled into the lungs over a period of time.
Robert Charlton, trading as Border Stone Quarries, pleaded guilty at Tynedale Magistrates Court to breaching regulations concerning the control of hazardous substances and was fined £6,000 plus £7,602 costs.
It was decided that, in addition to failing to ensure staffs' exposure to silica was controlled, Mr Charlton had failed to notify the HSE of a case of ill-health.
HSE inspector Andrea Robbins commented: "This prosecution serves to publicise the need for employers to be vigilant in identifying substances in their business which can affect workers' health."
Companies whose work generates stone dust, which contains silica, should take particular care to protect their employees, she added.