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August 21, 2008

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Activity centre fined following 8-year-old’s fall

An activity centre in Norfolk has been fined following an incident in which an 8-year-old child was injured after falling six metres from a climbing wall.

On 28 April 2007, eight-year-old Mickey Carter-Browne was injured during a school trip to the Kingswood Activity Centre at West Runton. He fell six metres from a climbing wall, sustaining a broken ankle and bruising to his pelvis, upper leg, left ankle and arms.

The incident occurred when Mickey reached a height of about six metres on the climbing wall. A click was heard, and he fell onto the wooden floor below. The HSE investigation identified that when the karabiner (metal loop) was attached to the harness, the screw had not been tightened, which allowed the karabiner to open when a load was applied.

The investigation also found that the training and supervision procedures at the centre were not sufficient for the activities being carried out, and were not being routinely followed on the ground.

At Cromer Magistrates Court on 15 August, Norwich-based Kingswood Learning and Leisure (Group) Limited was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £10,690 costs having pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE Inspector, Steve Gill, said: “This was an unfortunate incident which could have been prevented had the correct safety procedures been followed, and the staff undertaking the activities had been properly trained and supervised. Instead, a child was injured and spent ten weeks in plaster, largely confined to a wheelchair, and another ten weeks on crutches.

“HSE firmly believes that children must have the opportunity to participate in adventurous activities such as climbing, which are fun, healthy and provide experience and education in risk management. Statistically, one incident does not alter the good track record of an overall safe and well-managed sector.”

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