A ten-year-old boy sustained severe head injuries when part of a swing collapsed on him at a Blackpool park. Blackpool Council was then prosecuted by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the council had been warned by Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) engineers in separate inspections (which the Council had paid for) that the swing needed urgent attention. The investigation concluded that poor repair work carried out on the swing in 2009 was likely to have contributed to its deterioration, meaning the same issue is unlikely to occur on other similar swings.
Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the child’s injuries, including a fractured skull, could affect him for the rest of his life. Magistrates were told the youngster and his friends had been playing on a tyre swing at one of the council’s public parks. The swing was connected to an arched metal beam overhead by four chains which hung down from a suspension mechanism. The boy was underneath the swing when the rotating mechanism gave way, striking him on the head. He was in hospital for eight days, suffered a crushed and fractured skull, and the loss of vision in his right eye.
The Council was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £20,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 23 October 2013.
Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”