Following an incident at Springwood Special Educational Needs Primary School on Bolton Road in Swinton where a pupil had three of their fingertips severed in a school gate, Salford City Council was prosecuted and fined for breaching Health and Safety Regulations.
A six year old pupil at the school, who has learning difficulties and autism, was being led by staff into the school play area at lunchtime with other children at the school, when the boys hand became trapped in the metal gates hinges, severing the tips of three of his fingers, one of them the middle finger was severed from the first knuckle.
Staff at the school recovered parts of the fingers and fortunately staff at the hospital was able to reattach two of them. However the boy has been left with reduced use of his hand and amputation injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and found that back in April 2004 a report had been given to the school highlighting the problem with the outside gates and the risk of children trapping their fingers, despite this the school did not take any preventative measures. It was only after this incident that the school finally fitted guards to all 22 of the gates at the school.
The Manchester Crown Court heard that there was an eight centimetre gap on the side of the gate when it was shut but when the gate was pushed open the gap was reduced to zero creating a guillotine effect. Staff at the school had been told to be vigilant when supervising children through the gates. The cost of fitting the protective guards would have been very little and could have prevented this accident from happening.
Salford City Council of Chorley Road in Swinton was prosecuted for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and after pleading guilty they were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £3,632 in prosecution costs.
After the hearing the Health and Safety Executive Inspector Emily Osborne gave this statement:
“All of the children at Springwood Primary School have special educational needs and many have profound and multiple learning difficulties, so are particularly vulnerable.
“Salford City Council failed to make sure health and safety at the school met the minimum legal standards and put these children at risk over a long period of time.
“Teachers did their best to supervise children through the gates and follow the risk assessment to avoid fingers being trapped, but no action was taken by the council to prevent this from happening.
“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. Instead, a six-year-old boy suffered injuries that are likely to affect him for life as a result of the council’s failings.”