It was reported in Health & Safety at Work Magazine that M&S will have to pay a £1 million pound fine and costs for putting shoppers, staff and construction workers at risk of exposure during the refurbishment of its Reading store in 2006.  The Judge at the hearing also commented that the company had failed to make a “proper and full apology”.

Judge Clarke in Bournemouth Crown Court said “there had a been a systematic failure on the part of M&S management and the firm had fallen below the standards required by law when undertaking such work.”

The asbestos was contained within roof tiles that had to be removed during the course of the refurbishment.  The judge went on to say electricians, other tradespeople M&S employees and shoppers using the Reading store during the months “all have a right to be anxious as to whether they have breathed in asbestos fibres and if so, what effect they may have on their well being in the future”.

Asbestos is a continuing danger to workers and people simply visiting buildings where asbestos is disturbed.  In this case roof tiles had been disturbed creating dust.  Sadly just inhaling a single asbestos fibre can cause mesothelioma, which is the terminal cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres.  Thankfully, the number of reported incidences is still relatively low and number in the thousands.

If you or a family member have been affected by asbestos or have been diagnosed with an asbestos related condition please do not hesitate to contact us on freephone 0800 294 3065, a member of our team will provide you with free, confidential advice.