Archive for July 19th, 2011
Retail giant Marks and Spencer and two of its contractors were found guilty today of failing to protect customers, staff and workers from the possibility of being exposed to asbestos during major refurbishment works at two of its stores.
The clothing and food store was subject to a three-month trial at Winchester Crown Court on charges of failing to ensure all steps were taken to prevent the deadly fibres from being unleashed in the shops.
The management is claimed to have been more concerned about the works being “unsightly” and “interfering with the shopping experience” of customers, the court heard.
The prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) related to works carried out at the company’s stores in Reading, Berkshire, and Bournemouth, Dorset.
The trial heard that construction workers at the two stores removed asbestos-containing materials that were present in the ceiling tiles and elsewhere.
But M&S did not allocate sufficient time and space for the removal of the asbestos-containing materials at the Reading store, the court was told.
The contractors had to work overnight in enclosures on the shop floor, with the aim of completing small areas of asbestos removal before the shop opened to the public each day, the court heard.
The HSE alleged that M&S failed to ensure that work at Reading complied with the appropriate minimum standards set out in legislation and approved codes of practice.
After nearly four days of deliberations, the jury found M&S guilty of two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 of failing to ensure the health and safety of its staff and others at the Reading store.
Co-defendants Willmott Dixon Construction Limited, of Hertfordshire, was found guilty of contravening sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at the Bournemouth store.
And Manchester-based company PA Realisations Ltd (formerly Pectel Ltd), was found guilty of contravening regulation 15 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 at the Reading store. Read More