Marks and Spencer and two contractors have been prosecuted after an accident at work saw employees, construction workers and members of the public put at risk of asbestos exposure.
Winchester Crown Court heard that the retail giant did not allow sufficient time and space for the removal of asbestos-containing materials during the refurbishment of two of its stores.
The contractor, PA Realisations Ltd, failed to reduce the spread of asbestos to the shop floor of the store in Reading and witnesses said the areas cleaned by the company were re-contaminated.
Charles Gilby, HSE principal inspector, said: “This prosecution exposed serious failures by Marks and Spencer and its contractors that we hope others will learn from.
“This verdict is a wake-up call for the retail industry. Client accountability and responsibility is at the heart of this case, because asbestos can and does kill.”
Asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year.
Posted by Verity Taylor