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HSE prosecute school following severe burn injury to seven year old child

View profile for Pauline Smith
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Is this the end of the four hour A&E target in England??

One of the roles of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to regulate not only workplace health and safety but other bodies, such as education establishments.

A recent prosecution on the 19th of June 2023 at Southwark Crown Court, brought by the HSE, found a London school guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work act.

The case involved an incident at a carol concert at a church in December 2019, when 60 children aged seven to eight, were waiting in a narrow corridor.  The children were wearing nativity costumes and the victim, a seven year old boy, was wearing a home made sheep costume made from cotton wool balls.  All the children had been given lit ten inch candles to carry into the church.  The victim’s costume caught fire and was extinguished with some difficulty leaving him with 45 per cent burns to his body.

The child has suffered life changing injuries, with a huge impact on both him and his family, and will require ongoing invasive surgeries throughout the remainder of his childhood and into his adult life.

The HSE investigated the incident and found that the school who had arranged the concert have failed to take appropriate measures which were obvious and inherent, by  allowing young children, wearing potentially flammable costumes, to carry lit candles.  The school pleaded not guilty however the jury at Southwark Crown Court disagreed and fined them £35,000.00 with £25,970 to pay in costs.

A spokesperson for the HSE said after the hearing that it was clear that no appropriate risk assessment had been undertaken and that by substituting the candles for flameless ones, this would have reduced the risk to any of the children to zero.