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Camden – ‘an accident waiting to happen’

Camden  – ‘an accident waiting to happen’


The family of Jacob Marx, a 27-year-old New Zealand man, who died when a 35ft sign, weighing nearly a third of a tonne, fell on him in Camden, London in January 2013, have expressed their disappointment at “an apparent lack of regulation, structured training or even guidance in the sign fixing industry” following the inquest into Mr Marx’s death.

“It has become apparent during the course of the inquest that there were significant failings surrounding the William Hill sign and we call on those authorities with the ability to do so to institute measures to try to prevent such a tragedy ever occurring again,” their statement said.

The inquest was told by a health and safety expert that, due to a series of errors, the sign was an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

The illuminated fascia sign over a William Hill betting shop, was installed in 2006 as part of a national refurbishment programme and replaced an earlier, lighter sign.

The jury heard from representatives from William Hill, their main contractor, from the sign company that manufactured and installed the sign, and from the company that was retained to carry out sign maintenance.

According to the lawyer representing Mr Marx’s family there were a number of attempts by the parties to pass blame on to each other.   In the end the jury pointed the finger at significant failings by William Hill and their main contractor, Acean Builders (now in liquidation), because ‘overall there was a lack of defined responsibilities (and) adequate checklists.”

David Catanach, Director of the BSGA, said that the Association is in complete agreement with the family’s sentiments.  “Everyone involved in the sign process – this Association, legislators, sign makers, maintenance contractors and sign buyers – must do everything possible to ensure the safety of the public.

“ The requirements are, in fact, set out in three separate sets of legislation – Health and Safety, Building Regulations and Planning Law.  If everyone involved had met their legal requirements in full, there should never have been a problem,” he said.

“This is why we have published guidance notes for our members on the obligations of signmakers and sign buyers which detail what UK and European standards must be met, cover the service life and warranty of a sign and explain in detail what the responsibilities of the sign maker and sign buyer are in terms of sign maintenance, inspection and repair.”

He added:  “Passing the blame seems to be the default mode of many in the industry.  It would be much better if everyone worked with us towards creating an environment where this type of tragedy could not happen.”

Blackpool tragedy

Yet another tragedy involving a sign occurred in January this year.

A 68-year old woman died when a storefront sign fell on her in Blackpool.

“Our condolences go to the woman’s family,” said David Catanach.

The accident is currently under investigation by the police and other authorities and we will report on it when information is available.

For further information on the William Hill Sign visit:


For further information from the BSGA visit:

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