M&S hit with £1m asbestos fine for unsafe refurb work

Grant Prior 6 years ago
Share

Marks and Spencer and three of its contractors have been fined a total of £1.15m for putting shoppers and construction workers at risk of asbestos exposure during refurbishment work on two stores in Reading and Bournemouth.

A sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court today resulted in Marks and Spencer being fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £600,000.

Styles & Wood was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000 and Willmott Dixon  was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £75,000.

Asbestos specialist PA Realisations (formerly Pectel Ltd) is now in administration and was fined a token £200.

Willmott Dixon Construction is applying for permission to appeal against the conviction.

Folowing a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive, Marks and Spencer, Willmott Dixon and PA Realisations were found guilty in July 2011.

Styles & Wood Limited pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing in January 2010.

During the three month trial which ended in July 2011, Winchester Crown Court heard construction workers at the two stores removed asbestos-containing materials that were present in the ceiling tiles and elsewhere.

The court heard that the client, Marks and Spencer plc, did not allocate sufficient time and space for the removal of asbestos-containing materials at the Reading store.

The contractors had to work overnight in enclosures on the shop floor, with the aim of completing small areas of asbestos removal before the shop opened to the public each day.

HSE alleged that Marks and Spencer failed to ensure that work at the Reading store complied with the appropriate minimum standards set out in legislation and approved codes of practice.

The company had produced its own guidance on how asbestos should be removed inside its stores, and the court heard that this guidance was followed by contractors inappropriately during major refurbishment.

The contractor, PA Realisations, failed to reduce to a minimum the spread of asbestos to the Reading shop floor.

Witnesses said that areas cleaned by the company were re-contaminated by air moving through the void between the ceiling tiles and the floor above, and by poor standards of work.

Styles & Wood, the principal contractor at the Reading store, admitted that it should not have permitted a method of asbestos removal which did not allow for adequate sealing of the ceiling void, which resulted in risks to contractors on site.

The principal contractor at the Bournemouth store, Wilmott Dixon, failed to plan, manage and monitor removal of asbestos-containing materials.

It did not prevent the possibility of asbestos being disturbed by its workers in areas that had not been surveyed extensively.

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.”

A Willmott Dixon statement said: “We are disappointed and surprised by today’s verdict – it is the first time in our 160 year history that we have been convicted of a health and safety related offence.

“Health and safety is at the centre of everything Willmott Dixon does, underpinned by rigorous procedures and a ‘safety first’ culture.

“This is further strengthened by having one of the industry’s largest teams of in-house health and safety inspectors, who visit, monitor and assess each project on a regular basis. We are proud of our health and safety record, which we believe is one of the best in the industry.

“We believe we acted appropriately at all times on the project in Bournemouth for Marks and Spencer, which included using an HSE licensed and experienced asbestos removal subcontractor selected from the Marks and Spencer approved list, which we were required to use in sourcing a subcontractor.

“At the time we appointed and used the specialist asbestos removal subcontractor, we had no knowledge of the existing concerns the HSE had about their previous performance. Had we been informed they would not have been engaged.

“Clearly we have to take on board today’s verdict and will see what we can learn from the incident. We are however minded to appeal.”

Latest news

Carillion warns on profits again as it breaches banking covenants

Contractor asks for more time from lenders as debts set to soar up to £925m
24 hours ago

T Clarke powers ahead on London major project wins

M&E specialist boasts strong orders for next two years despite Brexit fears
23 hours ago

Kier wins £35m Clydebank hospital project

Kier to start work early next year on first of two treatment centres for Golden Jubilee hospital
23 hours ago

M&E specialists suffering from blight of retentions

Nearly a third of firms have up to 10% of their turnover locked-up in retentions
23 hours ago

15 councils face action over local housing plans

Government set to intervene to force through local housebuilding plans
2 days ago

Betting Spy: Winning start for the Moyes boys?

West Ham are worth a go at 5/2 to turn up for their new boss
1 day ago

North to get own transport spending powers

Plan to give Transport for the North statutory powers from April a game-changer
2 days ago

White collar skills crisis strangling construction

Nearly two thirds of companies can't find Quantity Surveyors
2 days ago

Winvic bags £40m Nottingham build to rent scheme

Construction to start this month on 350-home scheme
2 days ago

Government rethink over £130m Balfour lorry park

Current plans dropped as Highways England goes back to the drawing board
2 days ago

Green light for £270m Swindon leisure complex

Work to start next year on North Star ski centre, hotel and cinema complex
2 days ago

£60m+ offsite secondary school bundle out to bid

ESFA plans trio of £20m-plus secondary schools projects using modular construction
2 days ago

British Land to start £200m London office revamp

Regent's Place office to be enlarged in major revamp near Euston
2 days ago

Hunt starts for £50m Liverpool cruise terminal builder

Preferred bidders will be revealed in March
2 days ago

Boost your online presence with the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
3 weeks ago

CITB to cut costs by stopping training

Skills body to "exit direct delivery of training through the National Construction College"
2 days ago

£17.5m Fylde coastal defence scheme awarded

VBA joint venture to start work in January on Lytham St Annes scheme
2 days ago

Interserve staff braced for more redundancies

Another wave of job cuts set to follow initial 200 lay-offs
3 days ago

£1.4bn Croydon Westfield shopping centre approved

Demolition contractors will be on the site for a year
3 days ago

Demolition to start for £250m Liverpool triple towers

Builder to be named for first residential tower in early 2018
3 days ago

Great Portland Estates plans work on £233m trio of schemes

Developer says London market still healthy
3 days ago

Three-year demolition job starts on Sellafield chimney

Painstaking work will see demolition team bring down 650 tonne stack by hand: Video
3 days ago

Mace wins £90m Harwell research project duo

Health research and satellite testing facilities to be built over three years
4 days ago

Crown Estate awards Kier £36m Regent Street job

Morley House will be demolished to make way for shops and flats
3 days ago

Over 30 firms land £8bn schools framework – Full list

Kier, Bowmer & Kirkland and Keepmoat take largest haul of lots
4 days ago

London facing post Brexit construction skills crisis

30% of construction workers in capital are from EU countries
4 days ago

Wates names interim financial chief

Veteran Rod Holdsworth takes temporary role while replacement found for Andrew Davies
4 days ago

Fire chiefs slam “lack of competence” in construction

Industry warned it needs to take fire safety more seriously
5 days ago

Intelligent JCBs set to save fuel and cut emissions

New software means machines will automatically switch off when power not required
4 days ago

£110m Glasgow shopping store to homes scheme approved

Mace is project manager for biggest city centre scheme since 1990s
4 days ago

Contractor services