$180K FINE AFTER BOY DROWNS AT SCHOOL CAMP

A local pool operator and the Department of Education have been fined a total of $180,000 after the drowning of an eight-year-old student during a school camp in Port Fairy. The boy, a Year 2 student from Merrivale Primary School, drowned at the Belfast Aquatics Community Pool and Fitness Centre on May 21, 2021.

The Port Fairy Community Pool Management Group Inc was fined $80,000, and the Department of Education was fined $100,000 after pleading guilty to failing to ensure safety measures were in place.

The court highlighted that schools must assess students' swimming abilities before water activities, but Merrivale students had not been assessed since 2019. Cooper’s mother had indicated he was a beginner swimmer, but this information was not shared with the pool staff. The school had booked an inflatable obstacle course in the deep end of the pool.

Upon arrival, the pool’s manager asked students about their swimming experience and allowed those who claimed to have swimming lessons to use the obstacle course. Cooper and other children struggled, prompting the manager to assist and redirect many to the shallow section. Cooper was later found unresponsive underwater by a public swimmer and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

The court noted it was feasible for the pool management to test children's swimming abilities and provide better instructions to lifeguards. Similarly, the Department of Education could have shared the students' swimming abilities with the pool.

WorkSafe emphasized the importance of proper safety measures to prevent such tragedies and the responsibility of schools to use safety information effectively.

‘It's hard to comprehend how young children could be allowed to use an obstacle course at the deep end of a pool without first taking real steps to objectively assess their swimming abilities. It's not enough just to have parents tick a box on a form; schools must use this information for its intended purpose – to help keep children safe.’

Share Tweet

RELATED

BANGLADESH: COMMUTING INJURIES NOW COMPENSABLE
In a groundbreaking effort, an employment injury scheme piloted in the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh will now include commuting accidents as part of industrial accidents eligible for compensation payout.
Read More
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT PREFERENCES IN CONSTRUCTION
The study has examined the help-seeking intentions and mental well-being of construction workers in the UK. A key challenge faced by designers of workplace interventions is low engagement with support services.
Read More
DIGITAL ROLE-PLAYING ASSISTS APPRENTICES WITH OHS
At the National Health and Safety Conference last month, Professor Helen Lingard, a leading workplace health and safety researcher from RMIT University, discussed how role-playing games (RPGs) can help apprentices develop better...
Read More