A video showing the moment shoddy workmanship failed and a sign fell from a Falmouth store front hitting a passng pensioner has been released.
The heavy sign fell eight feet from the front of the Mountain Warehouse store, hitting 79-year-old Patricia Tutton from Mabe, leaving her unconscious, as well as suffering from a fractured cheekbone and injuring her spine.
Only remembering the moments leading up to the incident, before awaking in hospital, Mrs Tutton has said the injuries have had a serious effect on her life and had left her in pain.
Fast forward to the last 30 seconds.
New Life Signs Installations Limited of 13 Abington way, Queensfield, Swindon, has accepted a caution following a hearing on June 20 and 23 at Bodmin Magistrates Court after admitting offences under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work 1974.
The action was brought by Cornwall Council’s Public Health & Protection, Food and Health and Safety Team who carried out an investigation following an incident on 29 November 2011 where a pedestrian was struck by a falling projection sign from the Mountain Warehouse store in Falmouth, causing significant injuries to a passing pedestrian.
The investigation found that the sign had been poorly fitted by New Life Signs Installations Limited with inadequate fixings, and that the basic duty of care to the public had not been fulfilled.
A council spokesman said that the complex case had a number of parties and subcontractors involved, who were based across the UK, with officers having to overcome several operational difficulties to conclude their investigation.
Cornwall Council senior environmental health officer Lee Mc Dowell said: “This was a complex case but with a simple message at the core, too often companies use the Health and Safety Work Act as an excuse for doing or not doing something, in this case New Life Signs Installations Limited failed in its basic duty to carry out its work in a safe manner having regard to the danger it would expose the general public to.
“I was shocked at how poorly the sign was fitted, and it was only luck that prevented it from killing someone. You didn’t need to be an experienced sign fitter to realise screwing a heavy sign (27 kg) to a thin fascia board made up of predominantly MDF was not going to stay in place for long and would present a danger to passers- by.”
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Homes and Communities said: “There is a duty placed on all of us to act reasonably and to do things in a safe manner. We expect companies to take common-sense precautions and we will take action if basic health and safety guidance is not followed.”
New Life Signs Installations Limited was ordered to pay the Council’s costs.
Mountain Warehouse was not implicated in the incident.