Prosecution for Canterbury School – the importance of strategic approach to staff training and competency

Prosecution for Canterbury School – the importance of strategic approach to staff training and competency

In August 2014, an incident took place at a school in Canterbury that highlights the seriousness of this issue. The school was running a summer camp for local children and during one of the swimming sessions, a seven-year-old boy got into difficulty whilst in the water. It took approximately three minutes for the lifeguards to notice that he was in distress, they then removed him from the water and performed CPR. As a result of the incident, the young boy developed a condition called pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lung tissue.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive concluded that the lifeguards were not effectively managed by the employer to ensure that they were fulfilling their duties as lifeguards. In this instance, the employees were not properly vigilant whilst on duty, which resulted in the incident that took place. It was also discovered that two of the three lifeguards on duty at the time did not hold current, up-to-date lifeguard qualifications. The school was taken to court where it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; it was fined £18,000 and had to pay £9,669.19 in costs.


Employers have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of their employees whilst they are in the workplace, however, under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, they also have a duty to protect the health and safety of people who are not their employees whilst they are on their premises. There are numerous ways that employers can adhere to these regulations, including ensuring that their employees are competent and properly trained, as well as making sure that such training is kept valid and up-to-date. Not doing so can have serious consequences for the employer, as well as the employees and any visitors to the workplace.
Kendon Safety offer a comprehensive audit process that critically reviews existing safety systems, management strategies and their effectiveness. A gap analysis is provided and shortfalls documented.
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