Bonfire night has been and gone; with the news of several firework events being cancelled due to bad weather it got us thinking – doesn’t happen often we agree but it did – about fireworks, health & safety and children. Anyway, fireworks and bonfires are inherently dangerous and quite often people, mainly kids, forget this. For the parents in the office, around this time, we constantly recount stories of how we warn our children of the hazards and risks associated with fireworks and sparklers.
This then reminded us of the case when a school was fined for health and safety offences relating to a ‘fireworks’ demonstration to a class of children. In fact, the case led the HSE to warn all schools that they need to have clear Health & Safety arrangements in place for their staff and students.
The incident occurred back in October 2014 when a chemistry laboratory technician was preparing a highly sensitive explosive for use in the ‘fireworks’ demonstration. The technician lost the top joints of his left hand index, middle and ring fingers and ruptured his bowel. He spent 12 days in total in hospital and although returned to work in February 2015, he has since retired.
The investigation revealed, and the Court heard, that the preparation of explosive substances had been carried out in the school several times a year since 2009. Other explosive substances, namely flash powder and gunpowder, were stored in the school’s chemistry storeroom. The incident could have been avoided if the school had implemented clear management arrangements to control and review the risks posed by the chemicals used in its teaching activities.
The school admitted to breaching offences under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined a total of £26,000 (£8,000 for the section 2 offence and £18,000 for the section 3 offence]. They were also ordered to pay £12,176 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Susan Chivers said: “Schools need to have clear health & safety arrangements in place for their staff and students.
“They should set up adequate control systems and ensure that these arrangements are clearly understood and adhered to. They should also follow recognised guidance … regarding the control of risks to health & safety in practical science work.”
Don’t get caught out for not having a clear policies or procedures in place, make sure you #GetProactive and #BeSafe. Let us help you to stay on the right side of the law. In the unfortunate situation of finding yourself on the wrong side of the law then #GetControl and let us help you #GetLawSavvy. See how our award winning law firm can help you by checking out our website.