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Girl’s Broken Wrist in Tree Fall Costs Centre Parcs £250,000

Posted on March 20, 2018

Holiday company Centre Parcs has been fined £250,000 for failing to ensure the safety of an eight year old girl during a tree-climbing activity session.

It was charged under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work  Act,  for a breach in its legal duty of care towards a member of the public.

A Center Parcs employee had been supervising seven children in an organised tree climbing activity, and was tasked with ensuring the children were safe by giving them a safety talk, fitting a harness to each child, and clipping each child to the fall-arrest system prior to the activity.

One of the children, aged eight, started to climb the tree, without being clipped and secured into the fall arrest system. When she reached approximately three metres she fell and sustained a broken wrist.

Central Bedfordshire Council said:

“Our investigations found inadequate risk assessments in place, an unsafe system of work, and inadequate monitoring to ensure that the tree climbing activity was safe.”

According to a BBC website report, the activity involved climbing the trees via rope ladders, and the group should have taken turns to climb two ladders.

But on the day in question, seven trees had ladders in place. The girl involved in the accident had been left unsupervised when the instructor was attending to her brother, the BBC said.

In its report, Judge Mensah is quoted as saying: “Young children would view the presence of ladders as an invitation to climb. They do not have the maturity or experience to be as aware of risks and consequences, as adults.”

In court, Center Parcs pleaded guilty and was fined £250,000 with additional costs of £14,000.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, executive member for community services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Our investigations found inadequate risk assessments in place, an unsafe system of work, and inadequate monitoring to ensure that the tree climbing activity was safe.

“This prosecution sends a message to businesses that there are serious consequences if health and safety laws are breached, and members of the public placed at risk.”

Woburn Forest Village is a separate legal entity to the other Center Parcs companies; however,  health and safety at the centre is managed via the group company, Center Parcs Limited, with generic health  and safety policies and procedures across all of their sites.

If you’re in need of assistance with risk assessments or other health & safety matters, enquire about membership today!

Source: Health & Safety at Work

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