£10k fine over billboard collapse

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Published: Wednesday 3rd December 2014 by The News Editor

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A building firm responsible for the collapse of a 15ft Kate Moss billboard which crushed more than a dozen shoppers on London’s Oxford Street has been fined £10,000.

The one tonne of fencing plastered with the supermodel’s face fell on top of around 20 shoppers outside the Mango fashion store in March 2012, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Three people suffered “life changing” injuries in the incident, including a woman who is unable to work as a result of damage to her vertebrae.

Her husband was also taken to hospital after breaking his back while the third victim broke her ankle in the crush.

Oracle Interiors today admitted the fencing breached regulations during a refit of the shop on the UK’s busiest shopping street.

Chief magistrate Nina Toller ordered the company to pay a £10,000 fine and £13,000 legal costs.

The three members of the public injured in the crush are in the process of bringing civil claims against the company, the court heard.

Ms Toller said: “We consider this a serious breach of health and safety regulations.

“We have listened to three victim impact statements. All these people sustained life-changing injuries.

“We accept Oracle Interiors has a good safety record and this was an isolated breach.”

The Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution, said the 11ft 10in (3.6m) high structure which weighed 0.8 tonnes was held upright by a single timber beam attached to the shop front by just two screws.

Builders working at the site spotted the screws coming loose moments before the hoarding was blown to the ground by a gust of wind but were unable to stop it.

The Kate Moss advert for Mango had been added to the fencing around the closed shop the day before the incident.

Builders on site had increased the height of the fencing from the standard 7ft 10in (2.4m) to 11ft 10in (3.6m) to stop debris from the refit project flying over the fence and potentially hitting the public, the court heard.

However, no risk assessment was carried out to judge the safety of the heavy structure and its ability to withstand winds and no design plan existed, HSE inspector Wendy Garnett said.

Dominic Kay, representing the construction firm, said his client was not a “cowboy company” and that it was an “isolated incident”.

“They have never had an incident like this before and, as a reputable company, they take it very seriously,” he said.

“This was not a case of profit before safety. They have complied fully with the investigation.

“They regret most sincerely the breach and would like to express their remorse through me in court in relation to the accident.”

Published: Wednesday 3rd December 2014 by The News Editor

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