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Prosecution launched against a high street retailer

and four contractors for exposing people to asbestos-containing materials during refurbishment

Date:
12 January 2010
Release No:
COISE/0201

At Bournemouth Magistrates' court today the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) initiated criminal proceedings against Marks and Spencer plc and four other companies for asbestos-related breaches during refurbishment work at shops in Reading, Bournemouth and Plymouth, where it is alleged that the companies failed to ensure that staff and members of the public were not exposed to risks from asbestos-containing materials.

Marks and Spencer plc pleaded not guilty to breaching three counts of section 2(1), relating to their own staff, and three counts of section 3(1), relating to members of the public and other workers, of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Each of these charges relates to each of the three stores and date from September 2004 to November 2006.

Styles and Wood Ltd, based in Cheshire, pleaded guilty to contravening sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. These charges relate to offences committed between 24 April 2006 and 13 November 2006 at the Marks and Spencer plc store at 12 Broad Street, Reading. The company will be sentenced at Crown Court at a later date.

Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd of Hertfordshire, entered no plea to the allegations of contravening sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 between 5 February 2007 and 3 July 2007. These alleged breaches took place at the Marks and Spencer plc store at 23 Commercial Road in Bournemouth.

Manchester-based company PA Realisations Ltd (formally Pectel Ltd), faces allegations of contravening regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 between 24 April 2006 and 12 November 2006, and regulation 15 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 on dates between 5 May 2006 and 12 November 2006 at the Marks and Spencer plc store in Reading.  PA Realisations Ltd was not represented in court today.

A committal hearing date has been set for 2.15pm on Tuesday 9 February 2010 at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court.

Notes to editors

  1. A fifth company, Clarence Contractors Ltd, was prosecuted and sentenced in relation to asbestos removal. The company, which is in terminal liquidation, was today (12th January 2010) fined £50 for each offence (total £200) and £100 costs. Based in Sheffield, the company pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 10 and 15 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 for offences committed between September 2004 and September 2006 at Marks and Spencer plc store at 29 Old Town Street, Plymouth. The company also pleaded guilty to contravening regulations 11 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 at the Marks and Spencer plc store at 23 Commercial Road in Bournemouth. The offence under regulation 11 took place between 5 February 2007 and 3 July 2007. The offence under regulation 16 occurred between 5 February 2007 and 8 March 2007.
  2. The remaining prosecutions are now a matter for the Court. HSE is unable to comment further.
  3. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
  4. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.
  5. Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 begins: Every employer shall prevent the exposure of his employees to asbestos so far as is reasonably practicable. For the rest of this regulation please see: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2002/20022675.htm#10 link to external website[1]
  6. Regulation 15 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 states: Every employer shall prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduce to the lowest level reasonably practicable, the spread of asbestos from any place where work under his control is carried out.
  7. Regulation 11 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 begins: Every employer shall prevent the exposure of his employees to asbestos so far as is reasonably practicable; [For the rest of this regulation please see: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2006/20062739.htm#11 link to external website[2]
  8. Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: Every employer shall prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduce to the lowest level reasonably practicable the spread of asbestos from any place where work under his control is carried out.
  9. You are advised to check the time and date of the hearing with the Court nearer the time to ensure that the case has not been put back.
  10. Now that criminal proceedings have commenced your attention is drawn to the fact that the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act apply to this matter.

Press enquiries

Katherine Ellery, Tel: 020 7261 8652
Katherine.Ellery@coi.gsi.gov.uk
Out of Hours: 0151 922 1221

Public Enquiries

HSE InfoLine,
Caerphilly Business Park,
Caerphilly
CF83 3GG
Tel: 0845 345 0055
http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/index [3]

Issued on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive by COI News and PR South East


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