Care home fined after boy drowns in disused quarry

A Kettering based care home company has been fined after a 16 year old boy drowned at a disused quarry on a day trip.
quarry (1)

The Old Bailey heard that on 16 July 2013 two 16-year-old boys, both residents at Castle Lodge Home near Ely, Cambridgeshire, were taken on a day trip to Bawsey Country Park near Kings Lynn, Norfolk.

The park contains flooded pits, and the two boys went into the water at the pits ignoring the 'no swimming' signs. One of the two boys became trapped in weed at the bottom of the pit and drowned. His body was recovered later.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the two residential support workers who accompanied the boys had very little experience and did not attempt to prevent the children entering the water.

No risk assessment was carried out prior to the trip and the care home's procedures were ineffective in ensuring the safety of the children while on outside trips.

Castle Homes Limited, of High Street, Rothwell, Kettering, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Anthony Brookes said:

“This boy’s tragic death was entirely preventable if the Care Home had planned properly and managed the risk of taking residents to the abandoned quarry.”

Phoenix comments:

The investigation of the tragic incident concluded that here were generic risk assessments, but no individual assessments had been made. It condemned systemic failure at Castle Lodge over a long period. The inquest heard the care workers were new and inexperienced and had not read a risk assessment that said the young person was a "high risk" for swimming. Well-planned trips can be a valuable outdoor education, but young people are considered vulnerable due to their lack of risk awareness. This potentially positive trip experience turned into an appalling tragedy, with the terrible loss of such a young life. The care home has since closed.