London borough council fined £330,000 after child sustains fatal injuries at playground

On 17th July 2015, Alexia Walenkaki was swinging on a rope attached at one end to a wooden post, when the play equipment gave way. The post snapped at its base causing the wooden structure to collapse on top of her. She sustained fatal head injuries.

An investigation by the HSE found that London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council had failed to make sure that an annual playground safety check was carried out. Investigators also found the post was made from wood that was unsuitable and had decayed.

The local authority had previously implemented a system of inspections, however, the play equipment at Mile End Park had not been inspected by a playground inspector since September 2013. If the equipment had been inspected and tested for signs of rot, the risk may have been identified and appropriate action taken to remove and replace the equipment.

London Borough of Tower Hamlets Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974. They were fined £330,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,204.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said, “Those who provide play equipment should ensure it is safe for children. The lack of a suitable playground inspection in the period leading up to this incident has resulted in tragic consequences.”

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