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Firm fined as stonework cleaning and pigeon spike installation job injures passer-by
Workers using a mobile elevating working platform to clean stonework and install pigeon spikes above shops had a mishap when repositioning the platform, which consequently struck the building and dislodged an 8kg chunk of masonry that fell almost eight metres to the pavement below, striking a pedestrian on the shoulder and knocking him to the ground.
The 29 year-old man, who does not wish to be named, cut and bruised his shoulder and experienced muscle spasms as a result of the incident on Camberley High Street last May.
A subsequent investigation by the Health & Safety Executive established that although barriers had been placed around the nearside support legs of the MEWP, there was nothing to prevent anyone from walking directly underneath the ongoing work overhead.
Magistrates were told that some of the barriers were being moved to provide a safe-working cordon further along the street where the MEWP was headed, but nobody warned the pedestrian to stand back or to be aware of the overhead work. The incident could have been prevented had the work been better managed with a proper safety cordon in place.
Majestic Construction, of Western Road, Portsmouth, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,473 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said:
"This was an entirely preventable incident that resulted in a large chunk of masonry being knocked onto an entirely innocent pedestrian. It is pure luck that it missed his head, otherwise he could well have been killed.
"Simply fencing off the area beneath the works and providing an alternative route around it is all that was necessary.
"Where people are working overhead in a public area they must exclude the public from the work area wherever possible. Public safety needs to be proactively managed in exactly the same way as that of those undertaking the work, and not just left to chance."
Further information on safe working at height can be found online at:
Photo: CCTV stills capture the moment of impact as the pedestrian is struck by the dislodged masonry
14th March 2013