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Workers Exposed to Silica Dust

A building contractor has pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches after failing to plan, manage and monitor work under its control, leading to gross exposure of its workers to Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS). 

The company was undertaking a refurbishment project in London when a proactive site inspection found workers in a basement had been dry cutting approximately 250 bricks to shape them for use in bay windows.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that failures in health and safety management had led to numerous issues on site. Workers were not informed of the dangers of inhaling the dust, they were not made aware of the correct controls, and the work was not supervised by a competent person.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,313.

“Over 500 construction workers are believed to die from exposure to silica dust every year,” commented HSE inspector Prentiss Clarke-Jones, speaking after the hearing. “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,” he said.

“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,” he added.

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