Terror from above

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James Taylor at his desk in his office at 116 High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Those halcyon days when pen and paper just worked!

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This is the horrific moment when a falling piece of masonry hit a pedestrian.

A construction company based in Portsmouth has been fined after the man was hit by the block of stone.

The CCTV image here was one of those used as evidence when the Health and Safety Executive took Majestic Construction, based in North Harbour, to court, saying its overhead work was unsafe.

The 29 year-old passer-by suffered cuts and bruises to his shoulder and experienced muscle spasms as a result of the incident on Camberley High Street, Surrey, on May 31 last year.

Guildford Magistrates’ Court heard that Majestic Construction Limited was undertaking work above shops to clean stonework and install pigeon spikes.

A mobile elevating working platform was correctly being used for the task, but as it was being repositioned it struck a building and dislodged a chunk of masonry weighing some 8kg that fell almost eight metres to the pavement below.

The stone struck the pedestrian on the shoulder and knocked him to the ground.

The HSE found that there were no barriers to stop people walking directly underneath the ongoing work.

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.

Majestic Construction 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.’