The Prosecutor’s Office has requested the file of the open case for the exposure to asbestos of hundreds of workers of the Madrid Metro for more than a decade. The Madrid Public Ministry, after three years of investigation, understands that Metro left its workers in a situation of “absolute lack of protection and an intolerable disregard for the safety” of its workers during the governments of Esperanza Aguirre, Ignacio González and part of the Cristina Cifuentes but they understand that those responsible for occupational hazards cannot be blamed.
Metro de Madrid discovers asbestos in a corridor of the Tribunal station
The case was opened in 2019 after a complaint from the Prosecutor’s Office filed as a result of the death of a Madrid Metro worker due to the disease derived from years of exposure to asbestos in the Madrid underground facilities. Since then, says the Prosecutor’s Office, hundreds of workers have been exposed, 13 of them have died and another 7 have become ill as a result of their exposure to asbestos.
The Prosecutor’s Office believes that there were infractions and points directly to Metro de Madrid between 2006 and 2017, until Cristina Cifuentes’ executive took action. “There has been an infringement of the occupational risk prevention regulations, in view of the overwhelming reports from the Labor Inspection,” says the Prosecutor’s Office.
The Prosecutor’s Office affirms that Metro de Madrid “exposed the workers to an extremely serious danger, Given the I was aware of the existence of asbestos in places and equipment since 2003 and that the workers carried out risky work on this highly dangerous material”. He even goes so far as to affirm that the public company acted “with absolute disregard for the safety of the workers, since they did not even know that the pieces they handled contained asbestos, thus seriously endangering their lives and physical integrity.”
The Senior Prosecutor for Occupational Health and Safety of the Public Ministry of Madrid, Alejandra Navarro, makes these considerations but, after the accusations and Metro have reached an agreement to compensate the victims and their families, she understands that none of the seven persons responsible for the prevention of occupational risks of the company must be judged and considered guilty for the consequences of the continuous exposure of workers to asbestos.
A sentence cannot be handed down, says the Prosecutor’s Office, “for the mere fact of the position or position that a specific person holds in the company, no matter how high it is” and in this case “they cannot be held responsible in integrum of each and every one of the behaviors carried out by others and that have been able to generate or increase the risk to the life or health of the workers and their position does not make them guarantors of all the actions that take place within the scope of the company in which they exercise their powers.
13 workers killed
The Madrid Prosecutor’s Office denounced the events in 2019 after more than a year of investigation and in this writing it recounts how 14 workers and union members testified in court and how they reported the same thing: that they did not know they were exposed to asbestos and the possibilities that this implied when it came to contracting diseases.
For their part, the seven defendants explained how certain reports were prepared, how the decisions to encapsulate and remove the asbestos were taken over their heads, and how they sometimes did not find out about the presence of asbestos where there were workers.
What is also reflected in this letter from the Prosecutor’s Office, in which it asks that the case not go to trial, are the figures of the consequences of asbestos: when the complaint was filed in 2019 there were two deaths from asbestos and two other cases of workers who had been recognized as having an occupational disease. Three years later, the death toll rises to 13 workers and the number of recognized occupational diseases rises to another seven workers.