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Bolton charity in court after child loses finger in school door

Date:
11 April 2014

A Bolton charity has been prosecuted for safety failings after a nine-year-old boy with autism lost a finger when his left hand became trapped in a school door.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action against the Birtenshaw charity after an investigation found the organisation had failed to make sure all of the doors at its new special needs school in Bromley Cross were fitted with finger guards.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard today (11 April 2014) that the child, who also has learning difficulties, trapped his hand in the hinge of the door when he went into the ‘quiet room’ during his first few days in the new school building on 11 September 2012. He lost all of his index finger as a result of the incident.

The court was told that the charity, which runs Birtenshaw School on Darwen Road along with several care homes, had identified the need for finger guards during the construction of its new school building.

However, the organisation failed to make sure the guards had been fitted before the new building opened to pupils in September 2012, and several doors were found to have missing guards.

Birtenshaw, of Darwen Road in Bromley Cross, received a conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £898 in prosecution costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Norton said:

“A nine-year-old boy has suffered an injury that will affect him for the rest of his life because of the failings of the charity which runs the school.

“Birtenshaw knew there was a risk of children’s fingers becoming trapped in doors as the pupils who attend the school have learning and physical disabilities, making them particularly vulnerable.

“It would have been relatively easy to walk around the school to check all of the doors had been fitted with finger guards before pupils moved into the new building, but the charity failed to do this.

“It’s vital that organisations do more than just identify risks and actually make sure measures are in place to tackle any dangers.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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