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Historic private school fined over dust safety failuresPosted on 30/05/2014

A prestigious private school has been fined after a stonemason with a 12-year career at the institution was diagnosed with a terminal lung condition.

According to medical professionals, the 55-year-old developed silicosis, as a result of his exposure to silica dust, due to not being given the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation, the worker was employed at Stonyhurst College from 1999. Working on a project to carry out extensive repairs to the historic site and weather-proof it, it is estimated that he may have been exposed to silica dust levels of up to 80 times the safe daily limit.

The HSE also told Preston Crown Court that, in 2005 and 2009, further stonemasons were employed by the college. Responsible for hand cutting over 400 tonnes of sandstone through the project, the HSE estimates that all three workers would have been exposed to unnecessary levels of dust.

According to the results of its investigation, the college did not take any steps to measure, reduce or protect the workers with PPE. There was also no extraction system or ventilation in the workshop.

The college continued not to make proper provision for the workers, despite the diagnosis of the worker with silicosis in July 2011. The stonemason, who did not want to be named, has subsequently had to leave his profession and is suffering with irreversible reduced lung function and breathlessness.

Finding Stonyhurst guilty of failing to ensure the health and safety of its workers, the court handed down a fine of £100,000 to the college, as well as ordering it to pay nearly £32,000 in costs.

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