Lung transplant for silicosis mason as second dust fine imposed

A 35-year-old mason with silicosis at Border Stone Quarries in Northumberland has had a lung transplant. Border stone were fined for failing to report his silicosis (see the previous issue of NSS).

Meanwhile, a second company, Dunhouse Quarries in County Durham, have been convicted of having masons working in as much as 45 times the level of dust permitted under the old legal limit - which was three times higher than the new lower limit introduced in October last year.

Newcastle HSE inspector Andrea Robbins told a Bishop Auckland Court at which Dunhouse appeared that what made this case worse was the fact that Dunhouse had commissioned a company to carry out atmospheric monitoring of dust levels but "did nothing to act upon the findings despite one employee being exposed to levels up to 45 times the maximum exposure limit as it was then".

Dunhouse were fined £3,750 and ordered to pay costs of £8,177.

The previous month, Border Stone Quarries were convicted of offences relating to dust exposure and failing to report a case of silicosis in one of their masons. Andrea Robbins now tells NSS that the mason has subsequently had a lung transplant.

She says she had not previously mentioned the severity of his condition because he had been extremely ill and she had been asked not to. Now he was recovering after his operation.

She says the mason is making a claim for compensation.

Robert Langley from law firm Watson Burton said at the Stone Federation annual conference in November that compensation claims for loss of the use of lungs and loss of earnings by masons suffering from silicosis could quickly add up to many thousands of pounds.

The Health, Safety, Ethical & Environmental Executive once again warns stone companies and stonemasons of the risk of contracting silicosis, a potentially fatal disease, if adequate measures to monitor and prevent exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are not in place.

Stone Federation Great Britain are producing a guide covering the four main Health, Safety, Ethical & Environmental issues affecting masons: hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), noise, manual handling and silica dust (RCS). It should be on sale in the spring.

Dunhouse were prosecuted under Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Harmful to Health (COSHH) Regula-tions 2002.