Marks And Spencer Guilty Of Asbestos Safety Failings

Expert Calls For Retailers To Recognise Responsibilities

20.07.2011

An expert at Irwin Mitchell has urged all retailers to ensure they take steps to protect workers and the public from the dangers of asbestos, after Marks and Spencer was found guilty of putting people at risk of exposure in two of its stores.

The high street retailer and two contractors – Willmott Dixon Construction and PA Realisations – have been found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation in relation to refurbishment work carried out stores in Reading and Bournemouth between 2006 and 2007.

In its prosecution, the Health and Safety Executive claimed the firms failed to properly manage work and provide enough time for a project to remove asbestos-containing materials from the sites.

Marks and Spencer was also accused of ensuring work at the Reading store was carried out in line with standards in legislation and approved codes of practice. All of the firms will be sentenced over the problems at the end of September.

Irwin Mitchell acts for people who have contracted asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the material, as well as the families of those who have been killed following contact with it.

Adrian Budgen, a Partner and asbestos claims specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This case demonstrates just how seriously the dangers of asbestos are taken by authorities and why companies need to do everything they can to meet the necessary safety guidelines.

“We have seen first-hand just how devastating the legacy of exposure to asbestos  can be, with many of those we act for suffering serious illnesses years after originally coming into contact with the deadly material.

“Lessons need to be learnt from cases like this and we would urge all retailers which are involved in refurbishment work to ensure they are fully compliant with the recognised, legal safety standards.

“The regulations exist to protect people from asbestos and we hope that, if any good is to come from this case, it will be that firms recognise the inherent danger of the material.”