Council Fined After Schoolboy Loses Fingers

Local Authority Failed To Act On Report Highlighting Gate Hazard

07.04.2014

A local authority has been fined £20,000 after a six-year-old boy with autism and learning difficulties lost the tips of three of his fingers.

Salford City Council was also ordered to pay £3,632 in prosecution costs following the incident at Springwood Special Educational Needs Primary School on Barton Road in Swinton in October 2012.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), staff had opened an outside gate to allow ten children to take their lunch break. At some point, the youngster's hand became trapped in the hinges of the gate, severing the tops of three of his fingers.
 
Two of the digits were retrieved and reattached at hospital, but the child now has reduced functionality in his hand.

Although a risk assessment had been carried out - which instructed staff to be extra vigilant when the pupils were passing through the gate - the HSE felt that guards could also have been fitted to prevent youngsters from putting their hands in the hinge gap.

It emerged that the local authority had failed to take heed of a report conducted in 2004, which warned of the hazards involved when children used the gate. The school fitted guards to 22 gates after the accident.

Following a hearing at Manchester Crown Court - in which Salford City Council pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 - HSE inspector Emily Osborne said the teachers did their best to follow the terms of the risk assessment by providing supervision. However, these vulnerable children were ultimately failed by the council, which did not ensure minimum health and safety requirements were met.

"It is simply not good enough to identify something as being a serious risk but then to do nothing about it, and a guard should have been fitted over the dangerous part of the gate," she commented.

"Instead, a six-year-old boy suffered injuries that are likely to affect him for life as a result of the council's failings."

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury and the council was at fault you might be entitled to claim compensation. Visit our Claims Against The Council page for more details or enquire online.