Outdoor education provider fined £1m

October 9, 2023

PGL Travel Limited has been prosecuted by Waverley Borough Council and ordered to pay £1 million plus costs after two children sustained significant injuries at an organised residential stay at the company’s Adventure Centre near Hindhead, Surrey.

The company pleaded guilty to offences under Section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at Guildford Magistrates Court in June, and were sentenced at Staines Magistrates Court on 2 October 2023, when the fine of £1 million plus costs of £18,006 and a victim surcharge of £181, were imposed.

The offences related to accidents which took place on the 26 May 2021 and 21 October 2021, both involving children attending school organised residential stays at PGL Marchants Hill Adventure Centre near Hindhead, Surrey. The two children sustained significant injuries to their fingers following entrapment in door hinges at the centre’s accommodation blocks.

The court heard that PGL Travel Limited, which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outdoor education provider”, had been monitoring similar incidents since 2009, and that 520 children across all its sites had sustained finger entrapment in door injuries, some resulting in significant injury and amputation. Despite this, the business failed to voluntarily install finger guards to protect children staying at the Marchants Hill Hindhead based centre until officers from Waverley Borough Council’s Environmental Health (Food and Safety) Team issued them with Prohibition Notices requiring them to do so.

Councillor Tony Fairclough, Waverley Borough Council’s Executive Portfolio Holder for Enforcement and Regulatory Services, said: “The council takes breaches of health and safety legislation very seriously; this is a significant fine for a local authority prosecution and it is testament to the sterling work of our Environmental Health and Legal teams. No parent expects to send their child on a school residential trip, and for them to return injured. The children involved should have been enjoying their first independent holiday without parents but were badly wounded and traumatised by their injuries, which required hospitalisation and surgery.

“It is vitally important that businesses protect the health, safety and welfare of visitors to their business premises. They can do this by undertaking a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of work activities at their premises and implementing control measures in a timely fashion.”

This is valid as of 9th October 2023.

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