Thomas Bushby – a stone masonry business owner – has been ordered to pay a fine of £2,500 after he was found guilty of endangering his workers’ lives.

As an industry, stone masonry already has many health risks associated with it, from silica and intense machinery vibrations.

Even though the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had previously given advice on these issues to Mr Bushby, he failed to follow their guidelines by not providing masks and for allowing stone waste to be swept rather than vacuumed.

Consett Magistrates’ Court heard that, due to this, his employees were put at a higher risk of silicosis and lung cancer.

The employer also failed to ensure a full risk assessment was carried out before his employees used vibrating tools such as air hammers, even though better equipment was available that would have made workers safer.

One of the company’s employees was diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome last year, following another previous case in 2009.

Thomas Bushby pleaded guilty to offences under Regulation 7 (1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and Regulation 5 (1) and 7 (1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005.

He was served with a fine of £2,500 and was ordered to pay an additional £1,921.29 in costs.

Fiona McGarry, a HSE inspector involved with the case, said: “Serious irreversible ill health or even death can result from exposure to silica and hand arm vibration syndrome is a permanent disabling condition.

“Employers need to take action to ensure they are providing adequate control to protect the health of employees.”