LONDON, February 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
A BBC investigation has claimed that high street giant Marks & Spencer was warned that its customers and staff may have been put at risk from asbestos contamination more than 10 years before being fined £1m for breaching asbestos removal rules.
In the "Inside Out" programme, screened on Monday 11 February, one contractor told a BBC journalist that he had raised the alarm over the way asbestos was being removed during a London store refurbishment in 1998, more than a decade before the company was fined £1m over work carried out at its Reading store.
Bridget Collier, head of the Industrial disease department at Fentons Personal Injury Solicitors LLP, said the report, whilst shocking, is not entirely surprising.
"We have heard several reports of maintenance workers carrying out refits and refurbishments for retailers - not just M&S - and having their warnings about asbestos being completely ignored," said Bridget, a partner with the firm.
"While the majority of any exposure risk during such refurbishments is borne by those carrying out the work, it is obviously of great concern if asbestos is being disturbed or broken up to cause fibres to circulate in areas where workers and even customers might be exposed.
"We have represented a number of clients who have developed asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and other lung conditions, who have never worked in the industry sectors where one might expect them to have been exposed to asbestos," she said. "In these instances, we have later found that they were exposed whilst their work premises - be it a shop floor, warehouse or even a hospital wing - were undergoing major renovations and the correct, safe asbestos-handling procedures were simply not being followed.
"Furthermore, it appears from the evidence we have gathered in a number of our cases that this lackadaisical approach to the rules has been endemic for many, many years," said Bridget. "Workers regularly tell us that they were not provided with proper safety equipment and that their managers, bosses or employers would constantly and consistently ignore any issues they raised about the safe removal and disposal of asbestos in order to ensure the job was finished as quickly as possible."
How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial diseases including asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800-0191-297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire