8th February 2023
Care Home fined £400k after Falling Tree Crushes Child
A care home provider has recently been fined £400k after an eight-year-old child suffered serious injuries when a tree fell on her.
The girl was understood to be out for an evening jog with her father alongside the grounds of the Southampton based care home. As she was running on a pavement outside the entrance to the care home, a lime tree fell on her. She suffered serious crush injuries and her leg had to be amputated. It was subsequently found that the tree was diseased with a common fungus and had likely been rotting for several years prior to the accident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ensued which found that over a number of years the Care Home had failed to have in place a strategy to manage trees, including adequate risk assessment, proactive surveys, inspections, and monitoring of trees, to identify where remedial work may have been required to prevent risk of the tree falling.
The Care Home management recently appeared at West Hampshire Magistrates Court where they pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and received a fine of £400,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £3,275 and a victim surcharge.
The HSE Inspector involved in the case said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to have in place suitable arrangements for managing trees on their premises, and failure to ensure that the trees were properly inspected and maintained.”
Duty holders should have such systems in place to control risks from trees to their employees, contractors and members of the public. To this end, the HSE have produced detailed guidance on the management of risk from falling trees or branches click here.
This guidance includes standards for managing the risk from trees, including risk assessment and where appropriate, routine checks by a competent person.