College fined after student injured by tree felling

A college in Surrey has been fined after a student was hit by a tree as it was cut down. The student sustained a serious leg injury in the incident, reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The accident occurred while the injured student was taking part in work experience at the college.

The campus supervisor had instructed an employee and part of the estates team to fell a tree on campus, with two work experience students present to observe.

Inadequate training

The tree was felled by the estates team, but it struck one of the work experience students as it fell, causing multiple leg fractures.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, which occurred on in May 2015, and found that there was insufficient training given to fell the tree competently. The investigation also found that there was inadequate supervision, and that risk assessments were not sufficient and had not been followed.

The college pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at work Act 1974. The college was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,461 by Redhill Magistrates' Court.

This case highlights the importance of good training, adequate supervision, and sufficient risk assessments which are communicated and followed by all staff. Offering work experience placements requires these basic Health and Safety compliance measures. 

The injured student was able to make a compensation claim against the school following the injury as the school did not approach the tree felling operation with the necessary care and attention, and did not take the necessary safety precautions to avoid injury. 

The Health and Safety Executive's role

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the UK's national regulator for health and safety in the workplace.

The HSE exists to reduce work-related injury, ill health and fatal accidents. To this end, the Executive conducts research, and provides information and advice to employers, staff and members of the public.

The body also promotes training and works with local authority partners to ensure proper inspection, investigation and enforcement of Health and Safety regulations in line with the Health and Safety at work act 1974.

College accident claims

If you, or a member of your family, have been injured in a work-experience accident or accident at school, contact a specialist solicitor on 0800 612 7456 to discuss your options.

Alternatively, you can arrange a callback for a free consultation and will be under no obligation to proceed with a claim.