Last reviewed 14 October 2021

The Spencer Academies Trust has been fined after failing to control the risk to humans from infectious diseases carried by animals.

Zoonoses, of which there are approximately 40 in the UK, are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans and are caused by micro-organisms that are subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.

A suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks from of loss of containment of specified animal pathogens must be carried out by the licence holder, which must include assessment of the risks arising from the work being undertaken involving specified animal pathogens.

The risk assessment must take account of all risk paths leading to a loss of containment when using specified animal pathogens, including handling, storage, transport (between laboratories and off site), work area decontamination, inactivation, disposal and waste management. Additionally, the risk assessment should also take account of foreseeable misuse of the specified animal pathogen, including biosecurity risks. Suitable and sufficient containment measures must then be put in place to mitigate any risks.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the Trust, which operates 12 schools, failed to properly control the risk from zoonotic diseases to employees, pupils and visitors at one of its academies. The academy school was home to several animals including goats, pigs and rabbits.

Investigating Health and Safety Executive officers found that the trust had failed to provide adequate washing facilities to control the risks of disease to employees, pupils and visitors to the academy. The academy had also failed to provide suitable housing for the animals to minimise the risk to children as well as adequate training for staff.

The Spencer Academies Trust, pleaded guilty to breaching ss.2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. It was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7304.10 and a victim surcharge of £170.