The owners of a major shopping complex have denied workers hired to remove glass canopies put shoppers at risk as they did the job.
A customer complained he was shocked when he saw the huge panes above the walkways in Central Retail Park being smashed to pieces by men standing on a hydraulic platform using hammers.
The shopper, who asked not to be named, said: “There was glass everywhere. The area was cordoned off with cones and tape and there was a squad sweeping up piles of it. I saw two lads on a cherry picker ready to smash some more, but when they saw me they stopped and brought the platform back to the ground before walking away.
“I was told by a member of staff the glass was being removed on health and safety grounds, but surely there was a better way to do it than just smashing the panels into bits. Could they not have taken the extra time to simply unbolt them?”
A spokeswoman for property giants Hammerson Plc who took over ownership of the complex last year explained: “We investigated a number of methods to remove the glazing, however removing the glass in one section was not easy to achieve safely due to the original installation and it was safer to break it insitu.
“The glass was toughened and designed to shatter in small beads. All affected areas were cordoned off, including parts of the road, to prevent the public entering. For the areas which were busiest entire sections were fenced off. Sheeting was laid to collect all the beads and the area fully cleared and inspected once the work had been completed.
“The health and safety of our visitors is extremely important to us and the glazing was removed as part of on-going improvement work. A full risk assessment was completed with Falkirk Council prior to work starting and was done outside of retail trading hours.”
Last winter a number of glass panels collapsed under the weight of snow that had fallen but fortunately nobody was hurt.