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HSE Prosecution Highlights Need For Employers To Protect Against The Hazards Of Harmful Silica Dust

A recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution resulted in a fine of £100,000 for a historic private school in Clitheroe. The fine was levied as a consequence of health and safety failings after one of its stonemasons developed a potentially fatal lung disease.

The stonemason, who was not named, was employed by Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe where he was exposed to high levels of silica dust. He was subsequently diagnosed with silicosis in July 2011 – four months before he was made redundant.

The college was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found that he and other stonemasons may have been exposed to more than 80 times the daily limit for silica dust.

The investigation found that the college failed to take any measures to monitor or reduce the exposure of workers to silica dust, despite the usage of sandstone which contained between 70% and 90% of crystalline silica.

Commenting on the prosecution, industrial disease solicitor Alex Shorey, based in the firm’s Birmingham office, said: “Silicosis is a devastating condition which is irreversible and often fatal. The disease can lead to an increased chance of suffering from lung cancer amongst other conditions. As such it is essential every employer takes steps to safeguard the welfare of their employees and reduce the level of exposure as far as possible.

“All too often we see first-hand the devastating effects of this condition. In many cases exposure may have occurred many years ago and therefore tracking down fellow workers and colleagues of sufferers can be difficult.

“The tragic case of Mr Jai Pall highlights this. Mr Pall worked for the AEI Tophill Foundry (later the Newby Hilltop Foundry) in Wednesbury between 1974 and 1999. Mr Pall sadly passed away in June 2012 and if anyone who worked with Mr Pall is able to offer any information I would urge them to get in touch.”

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