Troubled high-street store is ordered to pay £40,000 for breaches to Health and Safety at Work Act

Chain store Woolworths, already suffering from the economic downturn, has been struck another blow after being fined alongside LCH Contracts, for exposing staff to asbestos fibres.

The retailer and Essex-based asbestos removal firm was ordered by Exeter crown court ordered to pay a total of £140,000, after hearing staff in Tiverton and Bideford had used dustpans and brushes to clean up the lethal dust from the shop when ceiling tiles were removed from units.

Staff were reportedly not informed of the risks, and neither sites had enclosures erected to minimise the spread of dust.

Both firms pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work act.

Woolworths, which is already in administration, was ordered to pay £20,000 in fines, and £20,000 in costs.

LCH Contracts was fined £50,000, with £50,000 in costs.