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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned construction firms to follow regulations and use respiratory protection equipment when working closely with stone dust.

Inspector Andrea Robbins also said it is 'vital' for employers to monitor dust levels on working sites in an effort to reduce their staff's exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS), which causes silicosis.

Ms Robbins' comments were made after a Northumberland-based quarry company was fined when one of its employees was found to have contracted the disease.

She explained: 'It is an offence to not report a case of silicosis to the enforcing authority. This case only became apparent after an unannounced routine inspection was carried out at this site.'

'Companies who generate stone dust, which contains silica, should take precautions to protect their employees' health.'

The HSE's warning to construction firms has come just days after a US company launched a guide to personal protective equipment (PPE).

Available to order online, the free guide has been designed to help employers implement proper use of PPE in the workplace.

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