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Sports club found guilty of breaching Health & Safety Legislation following fatality

BY Thomas Elliott
Health & Safety
BG Orange

A Welsh sports and leisure club has been found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of persons on their premises.

The ruling follows the tragic death of Mr Robert Kemp who broke his neck in a fall from a low wall whilst he was attending a party at the Sully Sports & Leisure Club.  The club was charged with failing to provide adequate lighting at the patio area where the incident occurred, exposing Mr Kemp to an ‘unnatural risk to health’. 

The prosecution acknowledged that the wall Mr Kemp was sitting on was in good condition and that, providing it was lit by adequate daylight or artificial lighting, there would have been a low risk of injury. The court heard that there were adequate lighting systems in place but that they were not working on the night in question. The prosecution also argued that Mr Kemp was in ‘perfectly good health’ prior to the accident’. 

The club argued that the nature of Mr Kemp’s injuries suggested that was sitting on the wall and had simply fallen off. The Club’s Secretary of thirty two years, Mr Francis, told the court that health and safety featured very high on the club’s priorities. He said that formal weekly and monthly inspections were carried out and that any contraventions were ‘normally dealt with immediately’.  He added that, despite there being risk assessments and inspection mechanisms in place, he did not know who was responsible for checking the lights or that they were indeed working on the night of the accident. 

Barry Plastics Sports and Leisure Limited, trading as Sully Sports and Leisure Club will be sentenced later this month and will likely face a fine. 

This case reinforces the need for employers to ensure they have robust risk assessment processes in place, that areas of risk are controlled reasonably and that all members of staff are fully aware (and competent) of their roles and responsibilities.

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