Workers threw metal fittings above the heads of shoppers while putting up scaffolding outside a busy Oxford department store, a court heard, which endangered shoppers.
Darren Baker Scaffolding Limited was fined a total £10,000 with £706 costs after admitting four breaches of the Work at Height Regulations and a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Following the court case Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Peter Snelgrove said the conviction of the firm, of Turners Hill, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, showed how serious the safety failings it had uncovered were.
He added: “Little thought was given to shoppers as fittings and poles were tossed or passed over their heads. Thankfully nobody was injured, but that is the only saving grace.”
Oxford Magistrates’ Court heard that CCTV footage showed that passers-by had metal fittings thrown over their heads from a flatbed lorry as the firm worked on the two scaffolding structures outside Debenhams on George Street and Magdalen Street.
‘Significant’ risk of collapse
The HSE said its investigation had also found that pedestrians had been forced to go on to the road to avoid the work with no measures implemented to protect them from the traffic in September 2012.
It said heavy poles had been hoisted up above shoppers while the scaffolds had not been built to an approved design. Magistrates heard the structures were poorly configured and were not adequately tied and braced, which had undermined their stability.
The executive said there had been a significant risk of the scaffolding collapsing as a result of the failings, which may have endangered shoppers. It said although nobody had been injured, the activity outside Debenhams had been inherently unsafe.