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London Borough School Fined Over £32,000 For Safety Failings

A horrifying incident which left a 15-year-old pupil scarred for life has resulted in London Borough Council being sentenced for serious breaches of safety.

The incident took place while a group of pupils were on a Duke of Edinburgh camping trip in July 2011. While the group were cooking, a fellow pupil poured methylated spirits onto a cooking stove to keep the flame going. This resulted in a fireball of flames erupting and catching alight to the girl.

Attempts were made by the expedition leader, employed by the council, to put out the flames on the pupil as soon as possible but she still suffered severe burns.

The teenager, who has asked not to be named, has since undergone skin grafts in attempts to rectify burns to her face, neck, legs and arms.

Better safety procedures should have been employed

The event has since been investigated by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the Hearing on 25th January, an HSE inspector said that the episode was avoidable if basic safety measures had been implemented.

He said that councils and schools should apply precautions to prevent fuel or vapours being easily ignited and that a fuel container with a cut-off valve should have been used to make things safer. He also said that clearer procedures involving keeping the stove ignited should have been employed.

The Borough Council were ordered to pay £15,000 in fines and £17,246 in costs. It is unclear whether or not the girl injured has filed for personal injury compensation against the school or education authority.

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Published 11th February 2015.