Businesses and other organisations have been urged to make sure that when they have identified health and safety risks, they take the necessary steps to guard against them, after a charity was prosecuted over an incident in which a nine-year-old boy with autism lost a finger in a door.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action against the Bolton-based Birtenshaw charity after an investigation found that it failed to make sure all the doors at its new special needs school were fitted with finger guards.
Trafford magistrates were told on 11 April that the child, who also has learning difficulties, trapped his hand in the hinge of the door when he went into a room during his first few days in the school in September 2012, losing all his index finger as a result.
The court heard that the charity had identified the need for finger guards during construction of the school but failed to make sure they were fitted before it opened. Several doors were found to have missing guards.
Birtenshaw, of Darwen Road, Bolton, received a conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £898 in prosecution costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector David Norton said: “A nine-year-old boy has suffered an injury that will affect him for the rest of his life because of the failings of the charity.
“It would have been relatively easy to walk around the school to check all of the doors had been fitted with finger guards before pupils moved into the new building, but the charity failed to do this. It’s vital that organisations do more than just identify risks and actually make sure measures are in place to tackle any dangers.”
Palmers can provide comprehensive advice to businesses on all aspects of health and safety, including those relating to risk assessment. For clarification or guidance on health and safety responsibilities, or if facing prosecution, please visit our website or contact our health and safety specialists Lara Murray and Jeremy Sirrell.