Solihull School’s Fine Puts Pupil Safety In Spotlight

Investigation Reveals Machine Guarding Issues

08.11.2012

An incident which saw an 11-year-old pupil suffer a hand injury during a lesson has put the issue of pupil safety firmly in the spotlight, according to legal experts at Irwin Mitchell.

A Year 7 student at Alderbrook School in Solihull needed specialist surgery after  suffering tendon damage to his left hand in a design and technology lesson in October last year, when his hand was trapped between the rotating face of a sanding disc and the machine’s table edge.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation revealed that while guarding was in place, it was designed for adults and meant there was space for a child’s hand to be trapped. A generic risk assessment had also highlighted the hazard, but nothing was done to adapt the machine.

The injured youngster was forced to take time off school for several weeks after the incident and does not have full movement in his fingers. Alderbrook School was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs in relation to the accident.

Sally Rissbrook, an expert in claims related to accidents in public places at Irwin Mitchell, said the incident sent a stark message to all schools regarding safety.

She outlined: “Like so many of the cases we see, this incident could have been avoided and it is hugely worrying that the findings of a risk assessment were not even acted upon by the school.

“In addition, this incident also highlights how accidents of this kind can have a long-term impact on victims, leaving them needing specialist support and rehabilitation to have any chance of recovery.

“The work we do helps victims get access to funds which mean they can get that level of support, while it also means employers are held to account for serious safety failings. We hope that lessons can be learned from the incident to ensure the same problems are not repeated by any schools again.”