/ High school fined after pupil's climbing wall injury.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
ERU - on 09 Jun 2013
An Essex high school has been fined for safety failings after a 14-year-old boy fell more than four metres from a climbing wall.
The climbing wall at Manningtree High School

The climbing wall at Manningtree High School

The teenager was one of four pupils selected to try their first-ever 'lead climb', a more advanced, mainly rock-climbing technique, during a PE lesson at Manningtree High School on 17 October 2012.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2013/rnn-e-02113.htm?eban=rss
JayPee630 - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:

Interesting. I wonder who was instructing - whether it was a qualified instructor or a site-specific school person.
Jamie B - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:

Would be interesting to know a bit more - experience/qualification of the instructor, previous experience of the climber and belayer, was the lesson structured as part of a progression, were lead concepts introduced in advance, had there been earlier "top-roped" leads, etc, etc, etc
Andrew Wilson - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:
Shame this has happened. It does not say how they belay system failed. Surely a second experienced person should have been holding the rope.
The kids are lucky to have a wall like that at school, you would expect if they had gone to the trouble of building the wall they might have put a teacher through a suitable training course?
I'm sorry to say that I do hear of teachers grumbling about health and safety red tape and how having to write risk assessments etc. for anything they do is all too much but it is incidents like this which drive the HSE.
The school really should have known better.
winhill - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to JayPee630:
> (In reply to ERU)
>
> Interesting. I wonder who was instructing - whether it was a qualified instructor or a site-specific school person.

Yes, that was my first thought, nor does it say how their competency was judged.
timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to JayPee630)
> [...]
>
> Yes, that was my first thought, nor does it say how their competency was judged.

Wouldn't it be better to consider the mistake or mistakes that caused the accident rather fretting over paperwork?
JLS on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Andrew Wilson:

>"It does not say how they belay system failed"

PE teacher didn't give the Grigri to the fat kid and assign him to the role of team belayer.

Every PE teacher should know that the fat kid is always the belayer and the goalie.

<yes, I agree, it's a tasteless joke>
Timmd on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to winhill)
> [...]
>
> Wouldn't it be better to consider the mistake or mistakes that caused the accident rather fretting over paperwork?

Erm, lack of competency can lead to mistakes, can it not?
timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Timmd:
> (In reply to timjones)
> [...]
>
> Erm, lack of competency can lead to mistakes, can it not?

It's only one of many factors that can lead to accidents. Why jump on one factor instead of looking at the whole picture?
Mark Kemball - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU: My lad is working his way through the NICAS scheme at our local wall (the barn). It's a very good scheme, the way lead climbing and in particular lead belaying is introduced is a very structured and careful approach (I've been climbing since '74, have an SPA and have worked as an instructor, but I've learned a lot watching his sessions). Reading the report, I suspect this was not the case - if the instructor had checked everything before the climber had started to climb and had been tailing the belayer when (according to the report), the climber was instructed to jump off, then the climber should not have hit the ground. Given that he got away with just a broken heel when falling from near the 4th clip, I suspect the belay device probably slowed him somewhat.

It is really a shame that HSE are getting involved in this, given that broken bones on football, rugby or hockey pitches are just regarded as "one of those things".
GridNorth - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Mark Kemball:
> It is really a shame that HSE are getting involved in this, given that broken bones on football, rugby or hockey pitches are just regarded as "one of those things".

In all fairness though those activities have less death potential.
Timmd on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to Timmd)
> [...]
>
> It's only one of many factors that can lead to accidents. Why jump on one factor instead of looking at the whole picture?

....
However, instead of being supported by the belay technique, he fell unrestrained over four metres and hit the safety mat on the floor. The pupil, now 15, suffered a fractured heel bone, which was later pinned and plated.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Manningtree High School today (7 June) at Colchester Magistrates' Court.

HSE found that prior to the lesson none of the four pupils were aware what lead-climbing was or the risks involved and none had been properly trained or prepared for the more advanced type of climbing that was being attempted.

In addition the school failed to have an adequate safety management system in place for lead-climbing, and the instructor was not competent to teach or supervise lead-climbing.

Manningtree High School, of Colchester Road, Manningtree, was fined 9,000 and ordered to pay 1,641 in costs after pleading guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to adequately protect the pupils against the risk of falls.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Glyn Davies said:

"A teenage boy sustained a totally preventable injury that required an operation, saw him on crutches for more than 14 weeks, and from which he is still recovering.

"Inexperienced pupils receiving climbing instruction during PE lessons are completely reliant for their safety on the competence of their climbing instructor and the adequacy of the school's safety management system.

"Unfortunately in this case pupils were let down by Manningtree High School's failure to ensure the climbing activity was carried out safely and sadly this resulted in one pupil getting hurt."
....

It does seem like lack of competency to instruct was the cause of the accident.
NorthernGrit - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to GridNorth:

I agree. If the lad had been correctly trained and then swung into the wall injuring himself (ie all systems worked but there was still an injury) then the HSE probably wouldn't have got involved. This incident could be likened to goal posts falling on a pupils head and the HSE would be involved in that too.

The systems that should have been in place to make things as safe as is reasonable weren't.
timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Timmd:

Ah OK then. As long as we can call it incompetence we don't need to think about the real causes of the incident. That way everyone who holds a piece of paper that says they are competent can breath easy because it will never happen to them. Where do inattention and complacency figure on your list of potential causes of incidents?
timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Timmd:

Are you really not interested in what really caused the accident?
timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to Timmd)
>
> Are you really not interested in what really caused the accident?

Don't you just hate it when someone deletes the message you've replied to :-)

In reply to timjones: The other Tim's post referred to not only a lack of competence but also failure in the school's management of safety in this instance. Competence underpins the running of the whole activity.

I suspect the actual causes were identified, just not mentioned in the post-prosecution soundbite.
trouserburp - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:

Well at least it was 10,000 and hopefully won't force the school to close it all down.
A lawyer who hurt her foot bouldering sued a wall for 120k last year
In reply to trouserburp: The civil case may well follow...
baron - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:
Reading the school website P.E. page raised a smile - it's mention of pupils in plaster and safe, healthy exercise is either ironic or a masterpiece of wit.
It probably won't be so funny when the school and/ or the teacher are sued.

Pmc
Jamie B - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:

You really do appear to have an issue with qualifications, as evidenced on other threads. I've never entirely figured why that is. While there is not an exact correlation between tickets and ability, they certainly do help.

timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to timjones)
>
> You really do appear to have an issue with qualifications, as evidenced on other threads. I've never entirely figured why that is. While there is not an exact correlation between tickets and ability, they certainly do help.

Qualifications have their place, I even have one myself :-) But when the first question people ask after an accident relates to the qualifications held by the instructor I wonder if we are too reliant on them?


In reply to timjones: It would be one of the questions asked, not necessarily likely to be the first.
Jamie B - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:

> when the first question people ask after an accident relates to the qualifications held by the instructor I wonder if we are too reliant on them?

Relying on blind faith didn't appear to work too well here. The session was not run in a way that a qualified (even site-specific) person would have, and that is clearly a major cause of the outcome.

timjones - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Jamie B:
> (In reply to timjones)
>
> [...]
>
> Relying on blind faith didn't appear to work too well here. The session was not run in a way that a qualified (even site-specific) person would have, and that is clearly a major cause of the outcome.

Something was seriously wrong but I'm far from convinced that the accident would have been prevented if the instructor was "qualified".
cuppatea on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:

The debate of Qualifications vs. Experience could run and run and run but surely one of the first questions of any inquiry was always going to be "was the instructor qualified?"
andyathome - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU:
> An Essex high school has been fined for safety failings after a 14-year-old boy fell more than four metres from a climbing wall.
> The climbing wall at Manningtree High School
>
> The climbing wall at Manningtree High School
>
> The teenager was one of four pupils selected to try their first-ever 'lead climb', a more advanced, mainly rock-climbing technique, during a PE lesson at Manningtree High School on 17 October 2012.
>
> http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2013/rnn-e-02113.htm?eban=rss

Caller. Nice 'reportage'. Your point is?
tetley - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
True but qualified or unqualified .... crucial acid test is proof of negligence anyway.
highclimber - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones: I agree in principle. The question should be based on competence and while a recognised NGB qualification is a way of demonstrating this, it is certainly not the only way. The fact remains that even qualified people can be negligent.
andyathome - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to ERU)
>
> The debate of Qualifications vs. Experience could run and run and run but surely one of the first questions of any inquiry was always going to be "was the instructor qualified?"

No. It should be - and normally is - 'was the instructor competent?
Then you find out how they were competent.

Isn't this case pretty clear - a lad lobbed off a short climbing wall on lead and the belayer failed to stop them decking it?

The question is how were those risks controlled/managed. And in this case it was found that the person in charge failed to manage them adequately.

Is there anybody here saying that that finding was flawed?
ads.ukclimbing.com
andyathome - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to NorthernGrit:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
>
> I agree. If the lad had been correctly trained and then swung into the wall injuring himself (ie all systems worked but there was still an injury) then the HSE probably wouldn't have got involved. This incident could be likened to goal posts falling on a pupils head and the HSE would be involved in that too.
>
> The systems that should have been in place to make things as safe as is reasonable weren't.

What systems, exactly, were missing? Please be specific.

Or are you pontificating about an incident about which you actually know bugger all from the comfort of your computer?

It is quite possible that someone screwed up - but blowing off about 'systems that should have been in place' is just pure flatulence.

Unless you were the HSE inspector.....?
MJ - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome:

Quote from the article: -

"In addition the school failed to have an adequate safety management system in place for lead-climbing, and the instructor was not competent to teach or supervise lead-climbing".

Mike Nolan - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome: Backing up the novice belayer and having a top rope on the leader for the first few leads are the obvious ones. They were clearly not in place, because if they were then the lad wouldn't have hit the floor.
cuppatea on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to andyathome:

It will all be about blame rather than admission of any negligence. Especially if there is to be a civil action.

It's a whole lot easier to prove competance with a pile of qualifications and certificates than it is by showing the court/hearing/HSE a log book.
Sarah G on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to Mike Nolan:
> (In reply to andyathome) Backing up the novice belayer and having a top rope on the leader for the first few leads are the obvious ones. They were clearly not in place, because if they were then the lad wouldn't have hit the floor.

That's how I used to do it- put a second rope on, and have the top-rope belayer watch very carefully so as to follow the climber movements without allowing the rope to tighten, but to just act as a failsafe. The guy seconding the lead climber could then fully experience the feel and feed of the rope for the lead. Both belayers were tailed. At no point did I ever tell the lead climber he could just drop if he got tired, but he was warned that if he did get tired, he could warn the second and rest on the rope(rather than dropping on it)- thus using verbal communication was also inherent in the lesson.

Sx

Overdoing it? I don't think so. Everyone had a good time and learned the difference between lead climbing (on a wall) and top roping, and the difference in belaying techniques. And no-one decked.
A Mountain Journey - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU: ....and who pays the fine?
MJ - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to A Mountain Journey:

and who pays the fine?

From the article: -

"Manningtree High School, of Colchester Road, Manningtree, was fined 9,000 and ordered to pay 1,641 in costs"
ledifer on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:

the hse would not have just been looking at his qualifications, as you learn on any H&S course competence = TEAK
training, experience, attitude and knowledge.
The hse would have been looking at all of these to assess the trainers competence
A Mountain Journey - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to MJ: Thanks for that. I was thinking more down the line. This is a taxpayer fine in the first instance, but the money will come out of the school budget, less money for the school to spend on educating it's students therefore the kids at the school indirectly pay for this.
timjones - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ledifer:
> (In reply to timjones)
>
> the hse would not have just been looking at his qualifications, as you learn on any H&S course competence = TEAK
> training, experience, attitude and knowledge.
> The hse would have been looking at all of these to assess the trainers competence

Yes I'm well aware that the HSE would look at the wider picture. My comments here were about posters on this thread that jumped straight to questions about qualifications without thinking about some of the more obvious questions that the report of the incident raised.
timjones - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to cuppatea:
> (In reply to andyathome)
>
> It will all be about blame rather than admission of any negligence. Especially if there is to be a civil action.
>
> It's a whole lot easier to prove competance with a pile of qualifications and certificates than it is by showing the court/hearing/HSE a log book.

If you make a serious mistake then I would suggest that showing off a pile of qualifications is no excuse or defence!
cuppatea on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ledifer:
> (In reply to timjones)
>
> the hse would not have just been looking at his qualifications, as you learn on any H&S course competence = TEAK
> training, experience, attitude and knowledge.
> The hse would have been looking at all of these to assess the trainers competence

Thanks, Ledifer. That was a useful informative reply, rather than a "ner ner ner you're wrong and I'm right" which can so often happen.
iksander on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to ERU: So the leader made 3 clips, then decked out at the forth at an unspecified height "over 4 metres". Doesn't quite add up?
Neil Williams - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to iksander:

3rd clip is about 4m off the ground at most walls, no? (maybe a bit more). So perhaps 5m or so? Adds up to me.

Not commenting on this case, but I see a lot of people belaying at walls with a big loop of slack out, where a missed 4th clip (with slack in the climber's hand for clipping) would cause the climber to deck, at least on rope stretch. I do wonder if many such people have ever caught a fall like that. I know from experience that if a very heavy climber misses 3rd with slack out they will end up very near the floor.

Neil
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
> [...]
>
> If you make a serious mistake then I would suggest that showing off a pile of qualifications is no excuse or defence!

And you would be right.
cuppatea on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to Submit to Gravity:

But in an arse covering exercise it would help the school pin the blame on the instructor ;-)
winhill - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to cuppatea)
>
> If you make a serious mistake then I would suggest that showing off a pile of qualifications is no excuse or defence!

It's a really good defence against the allegation you've got no qualifications.
In reply to winhill: That wasn't the charge though.
timjones - on 11 Jun 2013
In reply to winhill:
> (In reply to timjones)
> [...]
>
> It's a really good defence against the allegation you've got no qualifications.

Unless I'm missing something you cann't be sued or prosecuted because "you've got no qualifications"?
Mike Nolan - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to Sarah G: Exactly. Encouraging new leaders to take a fall is never a good idea - backed up belayer or not. Encouraging them to rest on the top rope is definitely the best and safest way. They shouldn't be thinking about taking lead falls until both belayer and leader are competent and aware of what's going to happen in a fall and suitably experienced with basic lead climbing skills to hold a fall and actually fall correctly.

Qualifications are not a replacement for common sense and experience. But then, even experienced climbers can make poor instructors and poor decisions.
Howard J - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to winhill)
> [...]
>
> Unless I'm missing something you cann't be sued or prosecuted because "you've got no qualifications"?

Not as such. Neither are qualifications a guarantee of competence, and of course many highly competent and experienced climbers have no formal qualifications. However a lack of qualifications may make it more difficult for them to demonstrate competence to a court - after all, they would only be there because something has happened to call their competence into question. Likewise, it makes it more difficult for the owner of the wall to demonstrate that they've employed a suitable person to manage the activity.

Clearly, even in situations where the responsible person was qualified this alone wouldn't absolve them from responsibility should something go wrong. However the question may arise whether the accident would have happened at all had a qualified person been in charge.
winhill - on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to winhill)
> [It's a really good defence against the allegation you've got no qualifications.]
>
> Unless I'm missing something you cann't be sued or prosecuted because "you've got no qualifications"?

That's not what they told me when they caught me in Gynaecology.
deanstonmassif on 12 Jun 2013
In reply to winhill:

oh dear me.


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