Asbestos Justice settled a claim for mesothelioma compensation for Mrs S who sadly lost her husband to the incurable cancer.

Mr S was employed by a company called DH Allan & Sons Ltd between approximately 1960 and 1968. He was employed as an apprentice shopfitter/joiner. Initially he worked in the company’s workshop at Bells Court, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, preparing materials for fitting at the premises. During his first year of apprenticeship he was a general ‘dogsbody’ and was involved in sweeping up and helping the tradesman. Whilst he was doing this he was in the workshop and other qualified tradesman were cutting up asbestos sheets and other materials for use on premises that the company was working in. The asbestos was supplied to the company in large sheets measuring about eight feet by four feet.  It was cut to size in the joiner’s workshop with a circular saw. The cutting of the asbestos sheets created a significant amount of dust that got everywhere. Mr S client described this as like a snowstorm. He would be covered in the dust at the end of the working day.

The company had a significant contract with Marks & Spencer. They made all of the shop fronts by hand and refitted the interior of stores and warehouses, fitting fireproofing where required.

Mr S explained in his mesothelioma claim that he assisted in the cutting of the asbestos boards, feeding them into the saw. Vast amounts of dust were created from this.

When our client went out to work at premises, including Marks & Spencer stores, he would fit the asbestos where it was required. Asbestos was used extensively in Marks & Spencer stores, and a significant amount of the work our client did at Marks & Spencer was fireproofing. The rest of the work was general shop fitting. The asbestos sheets would be cut to form the soffits into which the electric lights were later fitted by electricians. The asbestos had to be cut to the correct shape using a handsaw. Our client would cut the sheets with handsaw which he described as being a very dusty job. Our client would also screw the sheets into place above head height, and the dust would fall down onto him.

At no time was our client provided with protective breathing equipment. He was not provided with a mask. He was not warned of the dangers of asbestos, and the risk to his life and health.

Mrs S was awarded over £200,000.00 in mesothelioma compensation following the sad loss of her husband and whilst the mesothelioma claim was brought against her late husband’s employer, concerns have been expressed recently over general asbestos exposure in Marks & Spencer’s stores.

Asbestos Justice’s, James Cameron has spoken to the BBC’s “Inside Out” programme alerting the public to the dangers of being nearby when work is undertaken on various sties including department stores. He said:-

“A number of old department stores still contain a legacy of asbestos products within their construction and it is vital that the store owners take appropriate precautions when refurbishment work is undertaken to ensure the safety of visitors. Mesothelioma can develop after low level exposure to asbestos and therefore safety has to be stringent to protect members of the public from developing this terrible condition in the future.”

Back in 2011 Marks & Spencer was fined for putting members of the public, staff and construction workers at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing materials during the refurbishment of two stores in Reading and Bournemouth. The conviction resulted in the company being fined £1 million along with £600,000.00 for costs.

The court found that the company had not allocated sufficient time and space for asbestos materials removal work being undertaken at their Reading store.

After sentencing, a representative from the Health & Safety Executive stated:-

“This outcome should act as a wake up call that any refurbishment programmes involving asbestos-containing materials must be properly resourced, both in terms of time and money – no matter what. Large retailers and other organizations who carry out major refurbishment works must give contractors enough time and space within the store to carry out the works safely. Where this is not done, and construction workers and the public are put at risk, HSE will not hesitate in taking robust enforcement action.”

Unfortunately, no safeguards were put in place when Mr S suffered his exposure to asbestos when working for his employer at various Marks & Spencer’s stores in the 1960s and this was relied upon as proof of negligence in support of the successful mesothelioma claim.

If you require assistance in pursuing an mesothelioma claim please contact us today on our Freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.

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