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November 15, 2017

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In court

School governors fined after 4 year old child’s finger amputation

The board of governors at a primary school has been fined after a pupil’s fingers became trapped in a toilet door, resulting in partial amputation.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court was told how, on 29 September 2016, the four-year-old pupil, who had been at St Joseph’s RC Primary School for three weeks, was allowed to access the girls’ toilet alone.

She was heard screaming by members of staff, who found her with her fingers trapped in the hinges of the toilet door. These injuries later resulted in partial amputation of her right middle finger.

The HSE investigation found that the finger guard on the door was missing as one had not been fitted since the toilets were converted five years previously. There was no system in place for checking and monitoring the door guards, and staff had also highlighted to the former head teacher that the door was too heavy for young children to open.

Pleaded guilty

The Board of Governors at St Joseph’s RC Primary school, of Market Street, Mossley, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and has been fined £4,000 with £1,750.90 costs.

HSE inspector Lisa Bailey said after the hearing: “This injury could have easily been prevented if a door guard had been fitted and a system was put in place to maintain and monitor the guards.

“The risk should have been identified so that reception pupils were not permitted to access the toilets alone, or they should have been allowed to share the nursery toilets.”

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Simon Joyston-Bechal
Simon Joyston-Bechal

It is very unusual to see a prosecution of a board of governors. These boards are not usually legal entities or persons and therefore not usually appropriate defendants. Does anyone know whether the governors were prosecuted as a group of individuals in their own names (unlikely from the reporting) or whether this was an unusual board that was also a legal entity, perhaps as a trust (unlikely, or this would have been reported as the HSE having prosecuted the named trust)? If the named defendant was the ‘board of governors’ rather than individuals, and if the board is not a… Read more »