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Posted on August 6, 2019

A playground installation and landscaping contractor has been fined after failing to provide employees with adequate control measures to prevent exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an unannounced inspection at Playscape Design Ltd in Bury. Here the HSE inspector served a Prohibition Notice to stop two employees using a powered tool to cut flags without any respiratory protective equipment (RPE). This put the health of the employees at risk due to exposure to RCS.

HSE then served an Improvement Notice, requiring the company to provide adequate control from exposure to RCS. The investigation found the company did not provide evidence of compliance within the deadline and a second, similar job was completed at the same site with no adequate control measures in place.

HSE inspector Rebecca Hamer, said after the hearing: “The working conditions we encountered were putting the health of the employees at risk due to exposure to RCS, which is released when silica-containing materials are cut with a powered tool.

“Exposure to respirable crystalline silica can cause life-threatening diseases including silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which can lead to impaired lung function, lung cancer and death. This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”


It is important that employees who require RPE are wearing the right respirator for the job they are doing. Tight fitting masks must be face fit tested for by a competent person. Before being fitted for the mask, employees must ensure they are clean shaven to ensure the sealant of the mask is effective.

Employers must ensure that any face fit tests occur whenever employees change the mask they are using (or if they use a disposable mask, are using a different type of mask), if employees lose or gain weight, undergo any substantial dental work or develop facial imperfections such as scars or moles around the face seal area.

Courtley Health & Safety run Face Fit Open Days every couple of weeks. Either disposable or half masks can be tested for and each test will take 20-30 minutes. Click on the link above to book your face fit test or call 0151 545 0497 for more information.


Source: HSE

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