A NATURAL stone supply firm has been fined for failing to protect workers from exposure to hazardous substances.

Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL) appeared before Darlington Magistrates Court today (May 12), following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), for failings identified in an inspection of its premises, in Barnard Castle, on October 16, 2012.

The court heard that exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) - a substance that can cause fatal lung diseases - was not being adequately controlled.

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Inspectors also found that the required health surveillance for the silica was not being carried out by the company and that equipment was not maintained in efficient working order, in good repair and was not in a clean condition.

The company, which is based on Harmire Road, Barnard Castle, pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 act and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,525 costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sal Brecken said: “Cutting stone can cause a lot of dust, which, if it is not controlled, can cause serious health effects – the most serious being silicosis which in its most acute form can be fatal.

“There is plenty of guidance available for stonemasons to help them improve existing control measures, and the health risks from silica dusts are insignificant when exposure to dust is properly controlled.”