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Poundworld’s non-reflective hi-vis jackets attract £63,000 fine

Prosecutor describes the supposedly hi-vis vest as “little more than an item of clothing”

Poundworld has been fined £63,000 after tests on its hi-vis jackets revealed its reflectivity was no more than 2.4 per cent of what it should have been. The retailer had sold 95,000 vests, each of which bore the slogan "be safe, be seen."

The Watford Observer reports that the prosecution came following an investigation by Hertfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team. In March last year, they purchased an Edwards Tools and Accessories Hi-Viz Safety Vest for £1 from Poundworld’s Watford branch and tested its visibility in low-light conditions. The results were described as ‘amongst the worst ever recorded’.

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Speaking at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, prosecutor Andrew Johnson said:

"Whilst the produce purported to be a high visibility safety vest, it was in fact no such thing. It was little more than an item of clothing. Neither the fluorescent yellow background material or the retro-reflective strips were of a standard anywhere near that which was necessary to ensure the visibility of the user."

The vest also failed visibility tests in daytime conditions.

Stan Reiz, defending, said the Chinese manufacturers of the vests had provided misleading test certificates. He also admitted that Poundland had fallen short of due diligence and said it had now changed its policies and increased its UK test centres.

Judge John Plumstead accepted that Poundworld had dealt with the matter quickly, withdrawing stocks from sale immediately and following it up with a national recall. He fined the retailer £15,000 and ordered it to pay £42,395.10 in an agreed confiscation order as well as £6,123.16 in prosecution costs.

Plumstead said:

"People would have gone out of the shop believing they had improved the safety of their children or themselves when out after dark on foot or on a bicycle. The fine demonstrates the court's disapproval of those who put on the market safety aids that are not safety aids at all."

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