The director of a London masonry company has been handed a suspended prison sentence for exposing workers to harmful stone dust and ignoring notices to improve extraction ventilation.
Employees at Redmist International Ltd, on Standard Road, Park Royal, were placed at unnecessary risk of inhaling dust, which can cause long-term health problems, for a period of six months between January and June 2013.
The company and director Ghausal Islam, 52, of Willesden Green, were sentenced after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious concerns.
Southwark Crown Court heard that stone dust was commonplace at Redmist through regular polishing and grinding work. If inhaled it can cause occupational asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), silicosis or even lung cancer, so it is vital that adequate measures are in place to limit exposure.
However, a HSE inspection on 24 January 2013 revealed that an extraction ventilation system in the factory was inadequate and hadn’t been properly tested to ensure it was fit for purpose.
Two Improvement Notices were served requiring urgent changes, but follow-up visits on June 5 and 13 established that nothing had changed, and that employees were still facing potentially harmful exposure.
The court was told that Mr Islam had a legal duty to protect his workforce and that he and the company had seemingly ignored HSE’s intervention.
The director, of Staverton Road, NW2, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, and was also ordered to pay £9,000 in costs for breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Redmist Internatonal Ltd, of Standard Road, Park Royal, escaped penalty for separate breaches of the same legislation because it is no longer trading and is the subject of a winding up order. The judge ruled that had it the means to pay, a £50,000 fine would have been imposed to reflect the significance of the failings – as illustrated by Mr Islam’s custodial sentence.