Kathryn Gilbertson

+44 (0)1733 887621 kgilbertson@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Locker safety

Education / 16 September 2021

A high school in Essex was recently fined £28,000 for breaches of health and safety requirements after the death of a nine-year-old pupil.

The pupil suffered fatal head injuries after a locker (180cm tall and weighing 188kg) fell on him during an after-school swimming lesson in the school’s sports centre in May 2019. The school admitted a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £16,700 and ordered to pay £12,000 legal costs.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that the locker had not been fixed to the wall, even though it was fitted with fixing brackets, and had doors missing.  It toppled onto the pupil when he and a friend climbed on it, using it like a climbing frame.

This tragic case is a reminder for education establishments on the importance of securing any free-standing furniture such as cupboards, large display boards, cube shelving, lockers etc.  We suggest:

  • Regular audits to identify:
    • Is furniture securely installed and where appropriate fastened to the wall?
    • Is furniture in good repair, condition and suitable for the user?
    • Have alterations to the floor surface or relocation of equipment changed the safety of the installation?
    • Are records kept of audits carried out and actions taken?
  • Appropriate monitoring arrangements to ensure fixtures remain secure. Remember that certain everyday scenarios in an education setting may loosen fixtures over time such as pupils pulling at the lockers to reach bags stored on top of them or high-level cleaning.
  • Reporting accidents under RIDDOR

The HSE advocates a pragmatic approach to health and safety in education settings ensuring a focus on real risks with the potential to cause harm. This allows you to follow a proportionate course to health and safety management centred around risk awareness.

We understand how busy life in an education setting can be. We work with leaders to provide a bespoke route map through the key issues you need to be aware of, saving you time, whilst raising awareness of potential risks. If you have a safety concern then do call, we’d be more than happy to help.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email: mailinglists@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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