Last reviewed 30 June 2021
A nine-year-old boy was fatally injured when he attended an after-school swimming lesson at the sports centre of Great Baddow High School in Chelmsford.
Leo Latifi and another young pupil had been waiting in the boy’s changing room for their lesson to start when they climbed on lockers, which had doors missing and which, the Magistrates’ Court was told, effectively provided a climbing frame for the children.
As the unit unbalanced, the other boy jumped free but Leo was trapped as it fell and suffered a severe head injury.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the locker unit, which was 180cm tall and weighed 188kg, had not been secured to the wall to prevent it from toppling over.
Behind the lockers, there were holes and rawl plugs where the lockers should have been screwed in, which suggests that they were attached to the wall at some point, the court was told.
Having pleaded guilty to breaching s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, etc 1974, Great Baddow High School was fined £16,700 and ordered to pay costs of £12,000.
After the hearing HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said that the school had failed to identify the risk associated with the potential for the unit to topple over and to put in place appropriate monitoring arrangements to ensure that it stayed secure.
“At the inquest into Leo’s death last year,” she went on, “the jury agreed that this tragedy was significantly contributed to by a lack of appropriate assessment to a clear and obvious risk. This remained the case for around six years.”
The inquest was told that the lockers had been moved when new flooring was laid in 2013–14 and it was "highly likely" they were fixed by screws to the wall before this.
Ms Turnell urged all organisations as a matter of urgency to check that any free-standing furniture is appropriately assessed and properly secured.