Health and Safety Executive

Merseyside head fined after pupil suffers permanent injuries

A Merseyside headteacher has been fined £20,000 after one of his students suffered permanent injuries when he fell through the school roof.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted John Summerfield, 63, after he led a group of teenagers onto a roof at Sacred Heart Catholic College on Liverpool Road in Crosby.

He was found guilty of a health and safety offence following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. The court heard that Mr Summerfield had taken the group onto the roof on 14 August 2008 on the day of their A Level results.

One of the 18-year-old students, who has asked not to be named, fractured his skull, broke his ribs, perforated an eardrum and suffered permanent damage to his right eye when he fell 2.5 metres through a roof light.

Mr Summerfield, now retired, of Moorland Avenue in Crosby, was found guilty of breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to protect the safety of his students when he decided to allow them onto the roof. He was ordered to pay £22,708 towards the cost of the prosecution, in addition to the fine, on 29 October 2010.

Mike Sebastian, HSE Principal Inspector in Merseyside, said:

"John Summerfield wanted to show his students a part of the school they had never seen but it left one of them suffering a permanent injury to his eye.

"The roof was kept out of bounds for a reason. As the headteacher, Mr Summerfield should have thought about the possible consequences before deciding to take them through two locked doors onto the roof.

"Students should expect to be in a safe environment when they're at school and look to their teachers for guidance on what is and what isn't safe. Sadly, a pupil suffered serious injuries because of the poor judgement of his headteacher, and is unlikely to ever fully recover."

Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in the UK. During 2008/9, 112 workers in Merseyside suffered major injuries from a fall and another 174 had to take at least three days off to recover. More information is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.

Notes to editors

  1. The fine of £20,000 was upheld at a Court of Appeal hearing heard on 7 March 2011. The costs Mr Summerfield was ordered to pay were reduced from £22,708 to £15,000.
  2. Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work"
  3. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

Press enquiries

David Harris, Tel: 0161 618 1622
Out of Hours: 0151 922 1221

Public Enquiries

HSE InfoLine,
Caerphilly Business Park,
Caerphilly
CF83 3GG
Tel: 0845 345 0055
http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/index

Issued on behalf of HSE by COI News and PR North West


Directgov - Business Link

Updated 07.03.11