Council fined over £1m after child suffers ‘life-changing head injury'

05/12/2019
William Eichler

Hampshire County Council has been fined £1.4m after a child suffered a head injury caused by an unsecured street bollard.

During a visit to Lymington with her family, the six-year-old climbed onto the 69kg cast iron hinged bollard which subsequently fell to the ground taking the child with it.

As a result, she suffered a serious head injury that was initially life-threatening and had to spend six months in hospital in a critical condition. The extent of her brain injury will not be fully known until her brain has matured.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the bollard was damaged and not appropriately secured.

The damage had been reported to Hampshire CC prior to the incident and monthly scheduled inspections had failed to identify this.

The investigation also found ‘insufficient’ information, instruction and training were provided to the council’s highways department personnel conducting ad hoc and monthly inspections. The inspection guidance was also misleading.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Angela Sirianni said: ‘Councils have a duty to adequately assess and control risks to members of the public from street furniture.

‘A child has been left with life-changing injuries as a result of what was an easily preventable incident.

‘Council inspections failed to identify this risk over a long period of time and then, when alerted to the damage to the bollard, failed to take the urgent action required to prevent injury.’

Hampshire County Council was found guilty after a trial of breaching Section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £1.4m and ordered to pay full costs of £130,632.

The council has been contacted for a response.

This article first appeared on localgov.co.uk.

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