Council failed in duty to provide guidance on managing risk at swimming-pools…
Essex County Council has been fined after a physical disabled child almost died at a school swimming-pool in Harlow.
The 9-year-old boy had to be resuscitated after being pulled from the pool during a school swimming lesson in March 2011.
The subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the Council had failed in their duty to provide the necessary training and information to local schools about how to ensure the safety of their pupils around swimming pools.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court was told that the boy, along with his classmates were not adequately supervised during the swimming lesson and when the young boy was eventually rescued he was almost blue in colour. After being revived he was transported to a local hospital where he stayed overnight until doctors gave him the all-clear to return home. His mother says that the long-term consequences of the accident for her son include a phobia of water and a general feeling of unease and anxiety.
The court also heard that the Council should have had a plan in place for management of swimming pools in their area as well as some kind of emergency procedure in the event of incidents like the one that affected the disabled boy.
Essex County Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £20,000 and had to pay costs of £10,110.
HSE Inspector Nicola Jaynes commented after the hearing had concluded:
“This incident could have ended in tragedy and clearly demonstrates the need for local authorities to provide clear and up-to-date training, guidance and information to schools where they are the employer, so that schools can safely manage their swimming pools.
“It also demonstrates that local authorities have a duty to ensure that where issues haven been identified with schools not following guidance, remedial steps are taken to rectify these failings.
“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who put lives at risk and compromise safety.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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