School fined £100,000 for health and safety breach

Guilty plea: Stonyhurst College was prosecuted at Preston Crown Court
Guilty plea: Stonyhurst College was prosecuted at Preston Crown Court
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An historic Lancashire private school has been fined £100,000 over health and safety failings after one of its stonemasons developed a potentially fatal lung disease.

The 55-year-old from West Derby, near Liverpool, who has asked not to be named, was employed by Stonyhurst College for almost 12 years where he was exposed to high levels of silica dust.

He was diagnosed with silicosis in July 2011 – four months before being made redundant by the Clitheroe college.

Stonyhurst was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found that he and other stonemasons may have been exposed to more than 80 times the daily limit for silica dust.

Preston Crown Court was told the college employed the stonemason in June 1999 as the 200-year-old college buildings needed extensive repairs.

A second stonemason was employed in 2005 and a third in 2009 to help with a major project to build a new four-storey, sixth-form building.

The 21-month project required more than 400 tonnes of sandstone and the stonemasons spent their time working intensively with powered hand tools.

The HSE investigation found Stonyhurst failed to take any measures to monitor or reduce the exposure of workers to silica dust.

Even after the college was notified that one of the stonemasons had developed silicosis in July 2011, it failed to take any action to monitor exposure levels until November 2011.

The court heard the stonemason with silicosis had a reduced lung function, suffered from breathlessness and could no longer continue with his profession.

Stonyhurst was also ordered to pay £31,547.78 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees.

A spokesman for the colllege said: “Stonyhurst College pleaded guilty to this single offence at the outset of these proceedings. It has indicated its remorse. We accept the Judgement of the Court.”