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Wates fined after hoarding falls on toddler

Wates has been fined £4,000 after a 17m-wide shop hoarding collapsed on a two-year-old child at a popular Merseyside shopping centre.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the firm after the hoarding, which had been erected outside a new shop at the Racecourse Retail Park at Aintree, collapsed on the toddler and members of his family while they were enjoying a day out on 29 September 2008. They suffered minor cuts and bruises.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that Wates had commissioned Dean Lotwick - who trades as Hammerwich Construction - to build the 2.4m high hoarding to run outside a shop fit-out project. The hoardings were unable to withstand the wind due to their poor design and fell on the family as they walked past.

Wates and Dean Lotwick pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 28 (2) of the Construction (Design and Management) regulations 2007 by failing to ensure that the hoarding was properly designed and built.

Wates, of Station Approach, Leatherhead, Surrey, was given a fine of £4,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £5,273, while Dean Lotwick, of Cannock Road, Bruntwood, Staffordshire, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £6,963 costs.

HSE inspector Kevin Jones said: “What should have been a pleasurable day out turned into an unpleasant and frightening experience for this family. Not only did they sustain injuries, but I can imagine that the panic they experienced when their baby disappeared under the hoarding would have been considerable.

“It is important that those involved in construction recognise that temporary works such as hoardings are properly designed by competent people and built to the agreed design. This clearly didn’t happen in this case and the result of this was an incident which could have easily been prevented.”