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A charity organisation based in north-west England has appeared in Court and been punished after admitting it breached health and safety regulations in one particular case.
The charity Birtenshaw was the subject of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation after it emerged that a nine-year-old boy had lost a finger in an accident that involved his hand being trapped in a school door.
Its study of the circumstances surrounding the case uncovered the fact that the charity had failed to ensure all of the new doors it fitted at a special needs school in Bromley Cross were installed with the relevant finger guards.
As a result, the HSE opted to prosecute Birtenshaw and this meant the foundation was forced to appear at Trafford Magistrates' Court, where on April 11th it was told that the boy in question had trapped his hand in the hinge of a door.
He had moved into the 'quiet room' within the school to spend some peaceful time on his own on September 11th 2012, which was one of his first days at a new school. However, disaster soon struck and he ended up losing his entire index finger as a consequence of the accident.
Upon its appearance in Court, Birtenshaw admitted its neglect in relation to fitting the guards, pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It received a conditional discharge and was also told to pay £898 in prosecution costs.
The HSE looked into the state of the school in closer detail and found several of the doors the charity had fitted were missing guards, potentially increasing the danger children were exposed to.
It was not a case of being unaware of the need for guards, as the Court was told that the charity, which runs Birtenshaw School on Darwen Road in Bolton with assistance from several local care homes, had already identified these as required installations prior to the school being opened.
HSE inspector David Norton said the nine-year-old boy who was a victim in the accident has now suffered an injury that will affect him for the rest of his life and it is the charity's fault.
"Birtenshaw knew there was a risk of children's fingers becoming trapped in doors as the pupils who attend the school have learning and physical disabilities, making them particularly vulnerable," he stated.
"It would have been relatively easy to walk around the school to check all of the doors had been fitted with finger guards before pupils moved into the new building, but the charity failed to do this."
He went on to note that it is of great importance that organisations do everything they can to identify risks and put measures in place to prevent them.
It is not the first time in recent months that the HSE has taken action against an organisation based in Bolton, as last November recycling firm J Doyle was fined after a worker was struck by a steel beam.
By Francesca Witney
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