HSE express concern over child injuries on school placements
The Health and Safety Executive have issued a press release urging schools to carry out full and thorough safety checks on any companies they send their pupils to for work experience, after a recent child injury.
In 2005, Deansfield High School in Wolverhampton hired the Stafford-based company Make Learning Work Ltd to find placements for 32 of their pupils, and was led to believe that the company would undertake any health and safety checks on the work experience placements they found.
However, for the unlucky pupil who was sent to R & B garages, this turned out not to be the case. Fourteen years old at the time of his accident, the young boy, who was under the supervision of someone who spoke very little English, was accidentally sprayed with petrol during a draining operation and received burns to his hand when a battery spark ignited his sleeve.
John Healy, a Health and Safety Inspector said: “Making Learning Work Ltd failed in its duty by exposing this pupil to health and safety risks. Had they carried out a risk assessment, it would have soon been obvious that the garage was unsuitable”.
Make Learning Work admitted that they were in breach of the Health and Safety Act 1974, which states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety”.
After a child injuries claim was made, Make Learning Work were ordered to pay £22,000 to the boy and given a one year’s conditional discharge. The owner of the garage also pleaded guilty to health and safety offences and was fined £3,500 as well as being ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.
In a similar child injuries case, a fifteen year old pupil at Radcliffe Riverside School was injured whilst on a work experience placement, this time suffering burns that were so severe that he required five skin grafts to his forearms, stomach and legs.
Jonathan Bonner was spending his work experience at Castlefield Works, which makes doors, windows and conservatories. When he put something on the fire which was being used to burn waste, it blew back at him and caused him 25 to 30 per cent burns.
Although Castlefield Works had been cleared by the Bolton and Bury Education Business Partnership as being suitable for work experience, it is currently under investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and Bury Council to see if risk assessments were correctly followed and to ascertain if action needs to be taken.
Jonathan’s father praised the company’s boss, whose quick thinking and presence of mind saved his son and, as the company undergoes investigation, expressed empathy for his present situation.
If your child has sustained a similar injury, they may be entitled to compensation. If you would like to know more about making a child injuries claim without obligation, please contact Macks Solicitors.