MASONRY COMPANY FAILED TO MANAGE STONE DUST RISK
Firm and director ignored HSE improvement notice requirements
The director of a failed masonry company has been handed a prison sentence after workers were exposed to harmful stone dust and demands to improve extraction ventilation were ignored.
Employees at the London factory were placed at unnecessary risk of inhaling dust, which can cause long-term health problems, for a period of six months between January and June 2013.
Southwark Crown Court heard that stone dust was commonplace at the premises through regular polishing and grinding work. When inhaled the dust can cause occupational asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), silicosis and lung cancer.
HSE inspected the premises on 24 January 2013 and found an extraction ventilation system in the factory was inadequate and had not been properly tested to ensure it was fit for purpose.
Two Improvement Notices were served requiring urgent changes. HSE follow-up visits in June established that “nothing had changed” and employees were still facing potentially harmful exposure. The court was told that Mr Islam and the company had seemingly ignored the HSE intervention.
Clear concerns blatantly ignored
Redmist International Ltd, of Park Royal, London, escaped penalty for breaching legislation because it is no longer trading and is the subject of a winding up order. The judge ruled if the company had the means to pay, a £50,000 fine would have been imposed to reflect the significance of the failings.
Director Ghausul Islam was sentenced to 10 months in prison (suspended for two years) and was ordered to pay £9,000 in costs, by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Saif Deen said:
“Stone dust can be incredibly harmful and exposure, even over a relatively short period, can have devastating consequences.
It is therefore vital that companies involved in processes that generate airborne dust have effective systems in place to extract harmful particles, and provide adequate personal protective equipment for their employees.
That didn’t happen at Redmist International and the company, under the lead of Ghausul Islam, displayed a poor performance over the period of our investigation. The clear concerns we identified were blatantly ignored and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when worker safety is compromised in this way.”