Last year, a BBC2 programme uncovered a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which has led to a Cambridgeshire company recently being prosecuted over failure to prevent exposure to dust in the workplace.
Mastercrafts, presented by Monty Don, ran in 2010 and one episode featured a stonemasonry company called Atelier 109 Limited. The episode prompted a viewer to contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to report his concern over what he considered were inadequate precautions to protect workers from exposure to stone dust.
Prolonged exposure to dust can cause a range of respiratory and lung diseases, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer.
The viewer’s prompt led to the HSE visiting Atelier’s workshop. They served an Improvement Notice ordering immediate action to cut stonemasonry dust to within the legal limit. Further checks were undertaken at a later date and whilst improvements had been made, it was found that the ventilation system had not been adequately tested. Dust levels were between 100% and 300% of those deemed safe for workers. A second Notice was served.
In June this year a third visit was made to Atelier and HSE inspectors found the recommended actions had still not been carried out. The company was taken to court, found guilty and fined £5,000.
Claiming occupational disease compensation for exposure to dust
For those who have been exposed to dust in the workplace and have contracted respiratory problems as a result, occupational disease compensation is usually available. Whether it’s stone dust as in the case of Atelier; coal dust; paper dust or wood dust; all can be highly dangerous to health. Sadly, by the time symptoms of many respiratory diseases typically related to dust exposure show themselves, it is often too late for treatment to be effective. So it is important for anyone who knows they have been exposed to dust over a prolonged period to consult their doctor without delay, even if they are yet to experience any symptoms, because an X-ray can often reveal a developing problem.
It is possible to claim compensation against more than one employer if they are found to be negligent in their management of dust exposure hazards, and even if an employer has since ceased trading, there are still ways to obtain a financial settlement.
If you have been diagnosed with a respiratory or lung problem related to dust exposure, or have lost a loved one to respiratory or lung disease for the same reason, please get in touch. The experts at Stephensons have high level experience in bringing occupational disease claims against employers and can help you receive the compensation you deserve. For a no obligation discussion about your case, call us on 01616 966 229.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney