The trigger cause of the collapse was high winds catching a wooden hoarding that was attached to the brick wall and pulling them both over. However, the underlying cause was a failure to inspect and maintain the structure to which the hoarding was attached.
Southwark Crown Court heard how on 25th January 2014 a family of four were hurrying along a pavement to Catford Station to shelter from a storm when a wall and hoarding was blown onto the father, causing him to lose consciousness and end up hospitalised. The man, aged 45, suffered facial and skull injuries including a fractured eye socket and had to have a titanium plate inserted into his left cheek. The whole family including the children, aged four and nine at the time, remain affected by the incident, the court heard.
The subsequent Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that GLA Land & Property (GLAP) employed a company to manage and maintain this site. The investigation found that GLAP failed to oversee the contract properly, resulting in the wall not being maintained. The wall developed a crack which weakened, causing the hoarding to act like a sail in strong winds, eventually leading to its collapse.
GLA Land & Property Ltd of Broadway, London, pleaded guilty under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined a total of £250,000 and ordered to pay £ £14,653 in costs.
HSE inspector Ian Shearring said after sentencing: “A set of simple arrangements to inspect and maintain the wall would have picked up on the imminent danger to any passer-by. Instead, a whole family was traumatised by seeing the father sustaining serious injuries from being struck by hoarding as it collapsed. It was only a matter of luck that no one was killed on the day outside a busy station.”