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High street retailer fined £1 Million for safety failings.

Marks and Spencer plc and three of its contractors have been 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.

Asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year.

The sentencing hearing, at Bournemouth Crown Court, resulted in Marks and Spencer plc being fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £600,000, PA Realisations Ltd being fined £200, and Styles & Wood Limited being fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000, all for breaches that took place at the Marks and Spencer plc store in Broad Street, Reading.

Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £75,000, for breaches that took place at the Marks and Spencer plc store in Commercial Road, Bournemouth.  Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd is applying for permission to appeal against conviction.

As a result of a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Marks and Spencer plc, Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd and PA Realisations Ltd (formerly Pectel Ltd) were found guilty in July 2011. Styles & Wood Limited pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in January 2010. The work was carried out between 2006 and 2007 on shops in Reading and Bournemouth.

After the sentencing, Richard Boland, HSE's Southern Head of Operations for Construction, said:

"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 organisations 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."

 

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