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Stonemasons prosecuted after appearing on television

Posted: 2nd November 2011   In: Dispute Resolution

A stonemasonry business which was featured on television has been prosecuted after a viewer raised concerns about staff being exposed to dangerous dust.

Atelier 109 Ltd from Etton nearPeterboroughfeatured in a BBC2 series called Mastercrafts, presented by Monty Don.

Afterwards, a viewer contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and said the firm didn’t seem to be taking adequate precautions to protect workers from dust that can cause serious lung diseases.

HSE inspectors examined the premises and then served an Improvement Notice compelling Atelier to take immediate action to bring dust levels within the legal limit. Inspectors then visited the premises again and found that although some improvements had been made, the ventilation system still hadn’t been thoroughly examined and tested.

A second Improvement Notice was issued. When the inspectors visited for a third time, they found that the recommended action still had not been carried out, despite tests revealing that dust on the premises exceeded safety levels.

The firm pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,400.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alison Ashworth said: "Atelier were happy to get their moment on television, but rather less quick to protect their employees from a wholly avoidable risk that can have serious consequences and cause respiratory diseases.

"We understand the pressure that small businesses are under and this company was given ample opportunity on a number of occasions to make the necessary improvements. HSE only brought this prosecution when it became clear that the company was dragging its heels and failing to treat this issue with the seriousness it deserved.

"If you are a company and are issued with a notice requiring improvements to be made you can be expect to be prosecuted if you do not comply."