The Governing Body of a school in Kent has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,375 in costs after admitting a breach of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Magistrates heard how a 14 year old pupil was struck on the back of the head by a shot whilst taking part in a multi-sport PE lesson at school. The incident happened whilst he was standing on the edge of the shot put landing zone to check a friend’s throw. The pupil suffered a severely fractured skull and internal swelling and was hospitalised for nearly a month.
The subsequent HSE investigation found the school had carried out a risk assessment for PE lessons. However, although it had referenced the guidance by the Association for Physical Education, it did not follow their recommendation that such lessons be restricted to a maximum of four sports with only one to be a throwing event.
The school’s inclusion of six sports with three throwing events had significantly increased the risks to pupils, as had the proximity of the triple jump pit to the shot put landing zone.
After the hearing, the HSE said: “By not adopting the measures identified in their own risk assessment, the school put pupils at serious risk leading to a 14-year-old boy being struck by a shot put and suffering life-threatening injuries. It was a horrifying incident for him and his family and, of course, the rest of the pupils and the school itself.”
This incident sends out a clear message to all schools that it is vitally important that they review their risk assessments for all PE lessons and in particular for multi-sports lessons.