Boy Suffers "Severe Lacerations" During Castle Visit

English Heritage Receives Crown Censure Following Yarmouth Castle Accident

15.01.2014

A 12-year-old boy suffered serious cuts to his leg when a glass viewing panel broke at Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight.

The youngster jumped on the sheet - which was built into the floor to allow tourists to see the stonework underneath - causing it to splinter into shards.

His left leg was badly lacerated and he required two operations. The boy has now recovered from the incident, which took place in September 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and concluded the organisation that runs the historic site - English Heritage - had failed to take steps to ensure accidents of this nature could not happen.

It emerged that the glass had broken because it was not strengthened or laminated and although English Heritage had conducted visual inspections of the glass floors across its 400 sites, it did not specifically identify the risk of breakages.

Following the incident, the organisation set about assessing the safety of glass floors throughout all of its attractions.

Because it is a government body, English Heritage cannot face prosecution from the HSE in the same way that other businesses do.

However, it has been issued with a Crown Censure, which is the equivalent of a criminal prosecution and recognises the fact that the body was guilty of safety failings. This is the first time such action has been taken against English Heritage since it was established in 1984.

The HSE has reminded all companies and organisations that run tourist attractions of their obligation to protect the public and to ensure their risk assessments are thorough and up to date.

Mike Wilcock, the HSE's head of operations in the south-east, said it was "completely foreseeable" that schoolchildren would be walking and jumping on glass floor panels.

"Indeed the same thing could have happened to any adult who might have slipped or fallen heavily on one of these panels," he commented.

"This was an absence of any proper identification and assessment of the risks posed by glass floor panels to visitors and members of the public, coupled with a failure to install the correct type of glass."