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BUILDER RECEIVES CHRISTMAS ‘PRESENT’ FROM 2007

Firm prosecuted after failure of Xmas decoration fixing injures passers-by

Broadland (Builders) Limited has been prosecuted after Christmas decorations spanning the High Street in St. Neots collapsed in 2007. Two members of the public were injured and the decorations narrowly missed a baby.

Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court heard that on 29 November 2007 the fixing arrangement for decorations installed on office premises failed causing the decoration, fixing and masonry to fall to the pavement below. A passing car was hit by the masonry and the metal frame.

Passer-by Elena Giddens, aged 39, was knocked unconscious by the masonry. She required five stitches to her head and suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung.  Her friend pushing a baby in a pram “dived” on top of the pram to protect her son. She sustained three broken fingers and bruising to her arm, hand and back.

HSE investigators found that the 50kg decoration was suspended on two catenary wires attached by an anchor bolt to an “unsafe part of the building”. The mortar was known to be weak and a survey had not been carried out to determine a safe fixing location.

Suitable and safe fixing location not chosen

At Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court today, the director of Broadland (Builders) Limited, John Fifield, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company whose registered address is Euro House, 1394 High Road, London, N20 9YZ, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4250 costs.

HSE Inspector Paul Hoskins said:

“Guidance on suitable and safe locations for this type of fixing is freely available from trade associations.

Furthermore, had a suitable building survey been performed, it too could have highlighted the unsuitability of the chosen fixing location.

Since the incident, the company involved has undertaken further staff training and is now a member of the relevant trade association.”

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