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A company in Romsey has been fined for safety offences after a young boy was crushed to death by electrically powered gates.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution following the death of nine-year-old Jason Keet on 13 April 2006. He died when his head was crushed by the gates at the entrance to a private block of flats in Balcombe Road, Poole, Dorset.
The young Bournemouth boy arrived to visit his grandparents with his mother when he tried to open the electric gates at the entrance to the block of flats. He got out of the car, put his arm and upper body around the gate pillar and pressed the button on the inside, meant for use by people leaving the block of flats on foot.
The gates were built in such a way that there was a gap large enough for him to get between the edge of one of the gates and a brick pillar. Because Jason had reached through to press the button, his head and upper body were in this gap when the gates started to move, the opening narrowed, and his head was crushed between the gate and the brick pillar.
Faulkner Gates Limited, of The Hundred, Romsey, Hampshire, had previously pleaded guilty and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000. The firm was charged with breaches under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSWA) etc. Act 1974, following the incident.
Bournemouth Crown Court heard the organisation played its part in designing and building these gates but failed to properly control the risks that were being created.
Speaking after the hearing, the prosecuting HSEP IInspector, Stephen Hanson-Hall, said:
“Jason was on his way to see his grandparents, and was simply trying to help his mum by opening the gates. There is no way he could have been expected to understand the risks created by the design of these gates.
“Had the company undertaken a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, and communicated its findings with the other companies involved in the design and installation of the gates, it is unlikely this tragedy would have happened. Where several organisations are involved in design and construction projects, they must cooperate and communicate effectively with one another to control risks to the public.
“This is a tragedy that should never have happened. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of taking into account safety risks, to prevent another family going through the ordeal of losing a loved one - especially one so young, who should have had the whole of his life to look forward to.”
Further information regarding employers duties under health and safety law can be found at www.hse.gov.uk.