A FINE of £20,000 has been levied on an East Lancashire firm after playground installers were exposed to harmful silica dust.

Workers from Colne-based Playscape Design were using power tools to cut flags for a site in Radcliffe when the Health and Safety Executive stepped in.

An inspector issued an immediate prohibition notice after discovering no protective respiratory equipment had been handed out to staff, Greater Manchester Magistrates Court was told.

HSE officials say using power tools to cut flags leaves workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica, the court heard.

An improvement notice was also served in Playscape but they were found to have completed a second and similar job at the same site later, again with no protective equipment.

Magistrates also ordered Playscape, which admitted to a hazardous substance regulations breach and a Health and Safety at Work Act offence, to pay £3,000 court costs.

HSE inspector Rebecca Hamer said the exposure can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).