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Topshop team exposed to asbestos fibres

Retail group Arcadia and one of its shopfitting contractors have received maximum fines from magistrates for exposing construction workers to potentially deadly asbestos fibres at a Topshop store in Liverpool.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Topshop's owner, Arcadia Group Ltd, and the principal contractor for the site, Vincents (Shopfitters) Ltd, following an investigation. HSE said a specialist contractor should have been brought in at the outset.

 

Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard that workers were exposed to asbestos fibres as they removed air conditioning, sprinklers and other equipment next to ceiling beams, which had previously been coated with sprayed asbestos.

The refurbishment work was allowed to go ahead despite a survey, carried out before the project started, identifying asbestos as being present in the building on Church Street in the city centre.

HSE investigating inspector Warren Pennington 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."

 

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