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Pensioner "could have been killed" by falling hoarding, says HSE

A construction firm has been fined for safety failings after a pensioner was struck on the head by an advertising hoarding while walking past a building site in St George's Road.

The 85-year-old woman sustained a deep cut that required 13 stitches in the incident at Wardroper House on St George's Road near Elephant & Castle on 15 July 2010.

She remained in hospital for eight days before eventually making a full recovery.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard on Wednesday that Durkan Ltd, of Waltham Cross, was responsible for the hoarding, which stood alongside a pavement outside the development site.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive identified that it was poorly maintained, badly designed and constructed and had been overloaded with advertising material.

Magistrates were told that had the hoarding been properly designed and maintained to withstand a specific weight and inclement weather, then the incident could have been avoided.

Durkan Ltd was fined a total of 5,000 and ordered to pay 6,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Toby Webb said: "Advertising hoardings of this nature are defined as temporary works and must be properly designed, constructed and maintained to ensure they are safe.

"This sign and hoarding was not maintained in a safe condition, and a pensioner was seriously injured as a result. She could have been killed, and there was a clear risk to other passers-by as well as workers on the construction site it served.

"Durkan Ltd could and should done more to prevent that risk."

Wardroper House is one of the so-called 'early housing' schemes built to compensate for the homes to be lost in the demolition of the Heygate Estate.

We have invited Durkan Ltd to comment on the verdict.

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