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London council fined after school injury

Date:
22 February 2017

Islington Borough Council has been sentenced after admitting a role in an incident at a London school where a boy was left with serious hand injuries. 

Southwark Crown Court heard that on 25 March 2014, a twelve year old schoolboy was in a design and technology class making animal shapes out of plywood. The class used hand saws and some were using a belt sanding machine.

The court heard the schoolboy was using the machine for the first time, along with fellow pupils. They were shown how to use it by a fellow pupil and none knew the purpose of the metal guard for the sanding belt which was in a raised position.

When the schoolboy put the shape to the belt, it flipped downwards into the gap pulling his left hand forward and trapping it between the shape and the belt. The top of the boys left hand middle finger had to be amputated down to knuckle and was absent from school for several weeks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting said the teacher had not received adequate training to recognise that the machine was in an unsafe condition or recognise the risk of allowing pupils to use the machinery unsupervised and without suitable training. The design and technology class had been without a technician for 8 weeks prior to the incident; on the day of the incident the teacher was supervising the class alone.

London Borough of Islington pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £19,865.

After the hearing HSE inspector Jane Wolfenden said: “It is important to create a safe teaching environment for pupils where they can learn to appreciate and manage the risks they will face in life.

“If the teacher had been appropriately trained on how to use the equipment for the lesson, they would have been able to show the pupils how to properly use the sanding machine. Instead a young boy sustained an extremely painful injury that could have easily been avoided.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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[1]
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ [2]
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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