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Company Fined for Hoarding Collapse onto Oxford Street, London

A shopfitting company has been fined after shoppers in central London were crushed when a one tonne hoarding collapsed.

Slater and Gordon Lawyer Michael Latner reports that three people suffered serious injuries in the 2012 incident, including a 25 year-old woman who sustained an open fracture of her right ankle that needed extensive surgery.

Westminster Magistrates Court heard that the shoppers were crushed when the hoarding collapsed in the heart of Oxford Street less than 24 hours after it had been erected.

The one tonne, 3.6m high hoarding had been built the previous day by Salisbury-based Oracle Interiors Ltd to cordon off a clothing store that was being refurbished.

The Court heard that the hoarding was only held in place by a single timber brace which meant it was inherently weak and unable to sufficiently withstand significant gusts of wind or jolts from passing shoppers.

When the hoarding came down, an estimated 20 shoppers were trapped, with many suffering broken bones and crushed nerve injuries to their arms and backs.

Fortunately a number of people were able to escape unscathed after emergency crews and passers-by rushed to help. For an incident involving a one-tonne structure actually collapsing on top of a crowd of people on what is said to be Europe’s busiest shopping street, it's incredibly lucky that no-one was killed.

The law clearly states that hoardings need to be properly designed to withstand aspects such as adverse weather conditions and heavy loads. Contractors have a duty to their workforce and to members of the public to ensure that hoardings are safe and that all necessary measures needed to keep temporary structures secure and stable during use are implemented.

Oracle Interiors Ltd was prosecuted on 3 December 2014 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious flaws with the structure.

After pleading guilty to a single breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, Oracle Interiors Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £13,069 in costs.

Michael Latner is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon in London specialising in public liability and work accident claims.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have 18 offices across England, Scotland & Wales and offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.