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November 21, 2014

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Firm fined after child injured at playground

A global supplier of children’s playground equipment has been fined £75,000 after a child suffered serious injuries at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham.

Kompan Limited, a UK subsidiary of the Kompan Group of Denmark, was given the fine at Sheffield Crown Court on 7 November after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The firm must also pay over £17,000 in costs.

The court heard that in 2011 a nine-year-old boy, who was visiting Magna on a school trip from Lincolnshire, became entangled in a safety chain which had been retro-fitted to the Spinning Net – a ride on the outdoor playground.

The chain was fixed whilst the Spinning Net rotated. As it rotated the boy became entangled in the chain which tightened around his hand and wrist. As a result his upper arm and his middle finger were broken. He also suffered a bent lower arm, which required surgery to straighten it.

During the investigations carried out by Adrian Monkhouse, environmental health officer for Rotherham Borough Council, it was discovered that three previous entanglement accidents involving the safety chain on Spinning Nets had occurred at other locations in the UK.

The court heard that while action was taken to reduce and remove the risk at the other accident sites, Kompan did not warn others, including Magna, who had the chain fitted to their equipment, of the risk of entanglement.

Following the accident at Magna, Kompan Limited did eventually remove all of the chains that had been fitted to Spinning Nets across the UK.

In mitigation, counsel for Kompan Limited cited the company’s previous unblemished safety record, their co-operation with the prosecution and early guilty plea and also detailed changes in management and procedures to prevent a reoccurrence of this type of incident.

Cllr Maggie Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods for the Council, said the substantial fine and costs awarded to the Authority was obviously a strong warning to the makers of playground equipment.

She added: “This was a very serious accident in which a young boy was badly injured in a popular local playground. It has taken a long time to come to court but we need to ensure that all equipment is as safe as it can be.”

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