North West Employees Exposed to Deadly Disease

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Darbys Solicitors respond to a report from the Health & Safety Executive which claims four contractors in Burnley have contracted a potentially deadly industrial disease after being exposed to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

A firm from Burnley has been prosectued after four of its employers contracted a potentially-deadly industrial disease, the Health and Safety Executive has reported. (Full report at

According to the report the company, which specialises in shot blasting metal components, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the workers were exposed to the fine airborne dust known as respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Workers who become exposed to silica dust are at risk of developing silicosis, which can make it more difficult to breathe, increase the risk of lung infections and in some cases can even be fatal.

HSE claimed the court heard how the dust was formed when workers used sand in shot blasting equipment to remove dust and paint from components at the plant. However it is illegal to use most common forms of sand for shot blasting as the fine dust particles created when projected at high speed have lead to a number of industrial diseases in the past.

Unfortunately the blasting helmet provided by Elite 04 Ltd to carry out the work was not sufficient to prevent workers from inhaling potentially fatal dust particles according to the HSE report. Colleagues who assisted would also have been exposed as they were only provided with disposable dust masks to wear. When the sand was cleared afterwards, the court was told the employees were given no protection at all.

In response to the news from HSE, legal specialists at Darby’s Medical Negligence responded to the hearing claiming the company which carried out the work completely disregarded the risks of health and safety towards their staff.

Speaking on behalf of Darby’s Medical Neglignce, Richard Money-Kyrle stated, “Not only were these four workers exposed to a potentially fatal disease due to the clear negligence of their employer, but they’re unlikely to find out whether the level of exposure has any long-term impact for a number of years.

“I hope this court case sets an example to employers who place their workers in similar conditions, to make sure they are operating within the law and ensuring that the employees health and protection is their top priority.”

HSE Inspectors become suspicious of the substance being used for shot blasting when visiting the firm back in 2010, before discovering that Elite 04 had been using sacks of sand for shot blasting for almost three years as well as failing to provide the necessary health and safety equipment to employees leaving them susceptible to catching a deadly disease.

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Richard Money-Kyrle
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