School failed to act on issues raised in risk assessment…
A school in Solihull has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a student sustained serious hand injuries during a design and technology lesson.
The 11-year-old pupil suffered the injuries while using a bench sanding machine at the school. His hand got caught up between the edge of the machine and the rotating face of the sanding disc and he required specialist surgery to correct the extensive tendon damage to the fingers of his left hand.
The incident occurred on 6 October 2011 and the student was unable to attend school for several weeks while he recuperated from surgery. He received physiotherapy as part of the recuperation process but has not yet been able to recover full mobility in his damaged fingers and still suffers nerve pain, especially in cold weather conditions.
The investigation that the HSE carried out into the incident discovered that even though the sanding machine did have a guard mechanism – it had been designed for adult use and therefore the gap between the face of the rotating disc and the edge of the table was of sufficient size for the hand of the young student to become trapped there.
Solihull Magistrates’ Court heard that the school had undertaken a risk assessment of the machine and had even identified the issue of this gap as a hazard. However the school failed to act upon the issues raised in the risk assessment and had not modified the machine in any way in order to reduce the risks of contracting injury for their students.
The school was fined £3,500 in addition to having costs of £5,000 imposed after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 which states the school has a responsibility to do as much as possible to ensure the safety of their students.
HSE inspector Karl Raw spoke after the hearing had concluded:
“Health and safety management for design and technology within the school was not of the expected standard. Guidance was out of date, risk assessments were generic and concerns raised in a 2010 audit by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council relating to this had not been addressed.
“This prosecution is not about schools abandoning or being stopped from allowing pupils to use machines. It is about sensible assessment of risk given the age and maturity of school pupils.
“In order to do this, schools need to have in place a strong culture towards health and safety with a regular review of risks and procedures. That did not happen in this case, leaving an 11-year-old boy with a very painful injury.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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