High School Fined After a Student Was Critically Injured
A Chelmsford high school has been punished after a young child died when a locker in the dressing room collapsed on top of him.
On the 23rd of May 2019, nine-year-old Leo Latifi was critically injured during an after-school swimming session at Great Baddow High School’s sports center, according to the Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court. He and another little child were waiting in the boy’s changing area for their lesson to begin when that unfortunate incident occurred.
The children used the lockers in the changing area as a climbing frame because the doors were removed. The group pushed forward as they climbed to the front. One of the kids was able to jump free, but Leo was unable to do so, and the locker collapsed on top of him.
Locker unit causes crush
Despite having fixing brackets installed as part of its structure, the locker unit, which was 180cm tall and weighed 188kg, had not been attached to the wall to prevent it from falling over, according to an examination by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The court heard how an adult walking onto the unit’s bottom edge to pull at a bag trapped in a top-level locker or to wash the top of the unit could have caused the unit to tilt.
Great Baddow High School, Duffield Road, Chelmsford, has been fined £16,700 and ordered to pay £12,000 in costs for violating Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
“This unfortunate event resulted in the accidental death of a young kid, which has, and will continue to, greatly affect his loving family, friends, and acquaintances,” HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said after the court.
“This incident could have been entirely avoided if the school had simply ensured that the locker unit was securely fastened to the wall, but it had failed to recognize the risk associated with the unit’s potential to collapse and implement appropriate surveillance arrangements to ensure that it remained safe and protected.”
During an investigation after Leo’s death last year, the jury found that a lack of proper evaluation of an obvious and clear threat played a crucial role in this tragedy. For almost six years, this was the situation.
“As a result, I recommend all institutions to confirm that any freestanding furniture has been properly inspected and protected if they have not already done so.”
“Nothing can bring our beloved Leo back, and the prosecution hearing is yet another very tough period for us to have to repeat what happened on the horrible day he died,” Leo’s family said.
“Families must have confidence that their children will be safe and secure at school, in the care of other individuals, and the care of institutions. We can only hope that no one else has to go through what we had in the two years since our Leo died. The prosecution raises awareness among other schools about their responsibility in maintaining equipment that could threaten children. That is all we can ask for something now.”