Letchworth company ordered to pay �125,000 for asbestos exposure failings

A CONSTRUCTION company has today (Tuesday) been ordered to pay �125,000 after putting members of the public and staff at risk of exposure to asbestos in a high street store.

Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd, whose head office is in Icknield Way, Letchworth GC, was found guilty of failing to plan, manage and monitor removal of asbestos-containing materials while principle contractor for the refurbishment of retailer Marks and Spencer’s Bournemouth store in February 2007.

The company was fined �50,000 and ordered to pay costs of �75,000 for contravening sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 when sentencing took place at Bournemouth Crown Court today.

Wilmott Dixon is now applying for permission to appeal against the conviction.

Following a three month trial brought by Health and Safety Executive (HSE), today’s sentencing also saw the client Marks and Spencer fined �1m and ordered to pay costs of �600,000 for their involvement in the refurbishment of another site in Reading.

PA Realisations Ltd were fined �200 and Styles & Wood Ltd were fined �100,000 and ordered to pay costs of �40,000, for breaches that also took place at the Reading shop.

After the sentencing, Richard Boland, HSE 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.

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“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.”