A London Borough Council has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a teenage girl was engulfed in a fireball and is scarred for life.
The teenager was a pupil of East Ham’s Plashet School at the time of the incident (in July 2011) and was caught in a flashover when another girl poured methylated spirits on the cooking stove as she believed it was going out.
The flames set fire to the teenager girl’s clothing and headscarf on fire. She sustained severe burns to her face, neck, hands, arms and legs. She had to spend three weeks at Chelmsford Hospital’s Special Burns Unit and has since had to undergo a skin graft and is scarred for life.
The teenager was one of 25 girls on a three day Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award camping trip which took place near the West Sussex village of Henfield.
The group was led by an expedition leader employed by Newham Council along with two teachers and a school administrator.
The group were enjoying an evening meal when one of the girls wanted more food by thought the cooking stove was going out. She picked up a five litre container of methylated spirit and poured some onto the stove which caused an instant flashover.
The HSE found that the incident could have been avoided if simple precautions had been taken. Fuel should have been kept in the right containers, stored safely and simple procedures followed for lighting the stove.
Swain & Co.’s personal injury solicitors say that the incident was completely preventable and a young girl has been scarred for life for failures to take simple safety measures.
The fuel should have been taken in containers incorporating a safety cut off valve and should have been kept away from ignition sources.
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