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Scaffolders threw metal fittings over shoppers' heads

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A scaffolding firm whose workers threw metal fittings over the heads of passers-by in a busy Oxford shopping street has been hit with a £10,000 fine.


Hertfordshire-based Darren Baker Scaffolding Limited also hoisted heavy metal scaffold poles above shoppers and forced pedestrians to walk into the road to avoid their men and vehicle in scenes captured on CCTV outside a Debenhams department store on Oxford’s George Street.

The city’s magistrates heard on 17 March 2014 that two scaffolds were erected outside the department store on the morning of 30 September 2012 when there was significant footfall on the busy shopping street. As well as the failings in passing components over shoppers' heads, the scaffolds were not built to an approved safe design and were inadequately braced and tied, which undermined their stability and posed a significant risk of collapse. They were also poorly configured, which increased the risk of overloading, and loads could not be transferred safely to the ground.

“All scaffolds should be erected in a safe manner, but the risks are magnified when you are working in a busy city centre location with lots of traffic and pedestrians, as was the case here," explained investigating HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove after the case.

“Little thought was given to shoppers as fittings and poles were tossed or passed over their heads, and today’s conviction serves to illustrate the seriousness of the failings we uncovered. Thankfully nobody was injured, but that is the only saving grace.”

Darren Baker Scaffolding Limited, of Cheshunt, Herts, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay a further £706 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and four breaches of regulations 8(b)(i) and 8(b)(ii) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

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