Spanish benchtop company director received suspended sentence over worker exposure

Spanish benchtop company director received suspended sentence over worker exposure

A Spanish business owner has been convicted and sentenced in court, after he admitted that he concealed the dangers of his company’s product, a quartz agglomerate. It was alleged in court that close to 1,900 workers contracted silicosis due to exposure to the product.

The company, Cosentino, owned by Francisco Martinez, is Spain’s leading kitchen countertop manufacturer. Martinez accepted a six-month suspended prison sentence for five counts of serious injury due to gross negligence as part of a plea deal.

In a statement, the company said that the plea deal only admitted liability for insufficient technical information affecting five workers at a specific workshop and, therefore, could “not be extrapolated to other past or future proceedings”.

Cosentino is currently planning an IPO estimated to be worth more than 3 billion Euros. The company employs more than 5,000 people worldwide and recorded sales of over a billion Euros in 2021.

In the ruling, the judge noted that Martinez had not adequately labelled the quartz agglomerate as containing as much as 95% silica, despite being aware of the health risks.

Cosentino has also agreed to pay 1.1 million euros in compensation to five affected stonemasons who sued him for failing to warn them of the risk of silicosis.

Cosentino said managers at stone-cutting workshops “are responsible for ensuring that their workers have the necessary means of protection and that they implement them appropriately”.

“It is entirely incorrect that Cosentino has admitted to having concealed the fact that the handling of Silestone has caused the majority of cases of silicosis that have affected 1,856 workers,” it added.

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