• Robert Spicer

Schools: health and safety horrors


Repton School fined for safety failings

In November 2013 Christine Bywater went to Repton School to watch her grandson play football. She left the school pavilion and stepped on a stone staircase. She fell from the staircase to the ground five metres below. She suffered multiple injuries. The stone staircase had a parapet running along its edge but no handrail. This was a foreseeable incident which could easily have been avoided if reasonable measures, for example the fitting of guard rails, had been taken. Published guidance exists regarding appropriate edge protection and dimensions for handrails which the school could have used to identify the appropriate standard.

School camping fire

In July 2011a group of girls from a school in East Ham went on a camping trip in West Sussex. One of the girls poured methylated spirits from a five-litre container onto a cooking stove when she thought that it was going out. This caused a flashover. The girl suffered severe burns to her hands, arms, face, neck and legs. The incident could have been avoided if basic precautions had been taken. Fuel should have been kept in the correct containers, safely stored and simple procedures followed for lighting the stove.

Paint stripper burns

In January 2012 Bret Thomas, a school pupil then aged 16, was on an extended work experience placement at Motorhouse 2000 Ltd’s site in Cannock. He was told to help an employee who was refilling a wheel stripping tank. The employee poured paint stripper from plastic containers into the tank and then passed the containers to Thomas who removed their labels and cut them in half. As he was cutting the last container with a Stanley knife, the container flicked up and the remains of the paint stripper splashed into his eyes and face. He was not wearing face or eye protection. He suffered burns to his face and eyes. His vision was seriously affected for a month and his face is scarred.

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