PPS statement following sentencing of two companies for health and safety offences

Publication date:

Two companies were sentenced today at Belfast Crown Court for health and safety offences following a fire at the Primark building in Belfast city centre on 28 August 2018.

Bennett Management Contractors (GB) Ltd and AF Roofing Ltd pleaded guilty to the failure to, as far as reasonably practicable, safeguard employees and failure to ensure non-employees were not exposed to risk to their health or safety. The two companies were each fined £80,000. The third company, Boyd Project Services Ltd accepted a caution for a health and safety offence.

PPS Senior Public Prosecutor Graham Cardwell said: “An investigation into the circumstances of the fire was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and it was during this investigation that the health and safety failings were discovered.

“The PPS carefully considered all the available evidence submitted by HSENI in the investigation file and took decisions to prosecute the three companies. None of the offences allege that the health and safety failings caused the fire, but that employees and non-employees were exposed to risks to their health or safety as a result of the failings uncovered in the investigation. The defendants accepted that such failings occurred.

“The conclusion of this case should act as an incentive to other companies to ensure that they have carefully monitored and stringent processes in place so that people affected by their actions are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

“The PPS will continue to work closely with HSENI to robustly prosecute alleged health and safety offences, where the Test for Prosecution is met.”

Notes to editors

1. All decisions by the PPS are taken strictly in accordance with the Test for Prosecution which involves two stages. The Test for Prosecution is met if, in relation to an identifiable suspect, the available evidence is sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction (the Evidential Test) and if prosecution is in the public interest (the Public Interest Test). The Evidential Test must be passed first before the Public Interest Test is considered. Further information can be found in the PPS Code for Prosecutors.

2. Media queries for the PPS should be referred to the Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271 804, 07920 418844 or 07341 800254.