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Topshop workers exposed to asbestos

Two companies have been fined for exposing workers to asbestos fibres during the refurbishment of the Topshop store in Liverpool.

Arcadia Group Limited and Vincents (Shopfitters) Limited have been fined for exposing workers to asbestos fibres during the refurbishment of the Topshop store in Liverpool.

A survey conducted prior to the commencement of the works identified that asbestos was present in the building. However, a specialist asbestos removal contractor was not engaged which led to asbestos being disturbed when contractors sought to remove air conditioning, sprinklers and other equipment located next to ceiling beams. The ceiling beams had previously been coated with sprayed asbestos.

Initially the contaminated area was sealed off allowing work to continue on remaining parts of the building however, HSE stopped the works when they were alerted that the fibres were leaking from the sealed area. Forty five construction workers were evacuated from the area.

Both Arcadia Group Limited and Vincents (Shopfitters) Ltd were issued with the maximum fines possible in the Magistrates’ Court being fined £5000 and £10,000 respectively.

Warren Pennington, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"It is shocking that workers were exposed to deadly asbestos fibres, and that the refurbishment work was allowed to happen without the proper control measures in place.

"Neither company took adequate action to prevent workers being exposed despite a survey alerting them that asbestos was present in the building. The refurbishment work on the first floor was likely to disturb the asbestos and so a licensed specialist contractor should have carried it out.

"Instead, up to 45 individuals, who were working in the building, now have to live with the knowledge that they may become ill with a life-threatening lung disease."