South Scotland

Galashiels Academy lathe safety breach admitted

Galashiels Academy
Image caption The schoolgirl was unable to return to Galashiels Academy for six months after the incident

A council has admitted health and safety breaches after an incident in a technical class which saw a schoolgirl dragged into a lathe by her scarf.

Nadine Craig, who was 14 at the time, was pulled into the machine in November 2007 and freed by fellow pupils.

She received 40 stitches to a wound in her neck and it was six months before she returned to Galashiels Academy.

Scottish Borders Council admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act. Sentence was deferred for a week.

Selkirk Sheriff Court heard the authority had failed to carry out risk assessments at machines in the Craft and Design Technology classes over a period of almost three years.

The council also failed to ensure that a piece of machinery, a Colchester Colt 600 lathe, had a proper guard on it.

Carrie Macfarlane, senior procurator fiscal depute, said the schoolgirl had been told by another teacher the day before the incident to remove the green scarf she habitually wore.

However, on the day itself, her regular teacher switched on the machine for her while she was still wearing the scarf.

She said that when the scarf became entangled in the machine and dragged her towards it, two pupils had rushed to her aid.

Ms Macfarlane highlighted how no risk assessments had been carried out on the machines from 17 December 2004, with the teacher telling the local authority he did not have the training or the time to do so.

She also pointed out there was a limitless fine for this type of offence.

Ranald Macpherson, acting on behalf of Scottish Borders Council, said there had been "tensions" between the teacher and the council over the issue of risk assessments.

He added: "He was removed from classroom duties after this incident and shortly afterwards took early retirement."

'Traumatic incident'

Mr Macpherson said the "nub of the case" was the lack of a guard.

"Clearly a suitable risk assessment would have identified this risk existed," he said.

He offered the council's apologies to Ms Craig, now 20, for the "traumatic incident".

However, he pointed out she had not suffered any disability as a result of the accident and that a civil claim for damages was settled in December 2011 with a five-figure sum paid out.

He said the Newtown St Boswells-based authority had an annual budget of £265m and any fine would be paid from an unallocated reserve fund so that services would not be affected.

Sheriff Kevin Drummond deferred sentence until 7 October.

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