Nursery fined after boy's finger tip severed by closing door

A children's nursery has been ordered to pay £75,000 after a 14-month-old boy had part of a finger amputated by a closing door.

Just Learning Limited admitted a health and safety breach at its site in Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich.

Norwich Crown Court heard the company had failed to install "finger guards" that would have prevented the incident.

The company, which has more than 70 nurseries around the UK, was fined £40,000 and told to pay £35,000 costs.

In 2009, Just Learning was fined £67,000 plus £78,000 costs at Cambridge Crown Court after a baby choked to death at one of its nurseries in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire.

'Aggravating feature'

Georgia Hollick was 10 months old when she died in April 2006. Investigations following the death found failings in risk assessments.

Judge Jacobs said there appeared to be a "continuity" between that case and the latest prosecution, brought by Broadland District Council.

Image caption A boy lost part of a finger at the Just Learning Nursery in Norwich

He said it was a "fallacy" that issues raised at the previous case had been "remedied".

"That seems to me to be a further aggravating feature," said the judge.

"There seems to be a continuity between the cases."

The court heard the boy had been playing near a kitchen door at the nursery when he got the little finger of his left hand trapped.

Judge Jacobs said the incident, on 14 October 2009, had been handled in "less than satisfactory" way.

He said delays in dealing with it meant surgeons could not attach the severed skin.

The court heard the boy had not suffered a signficant cosmetic defect but had lost feeling in the tip of the finger.

Procedures reviewed

The judge said he had found no evidence of a "systemic" failure at the firm, which had an "enormous extra responsibility" because it was caring for children.

He added: "There are many other ways in which people can be assured Just Learning takes its responsibility towards children in its care very seriously indeed."

The nursery cares for babies and children up to the age of five.

After the case, a spokesman for Just Learning said: "We take our responsibilities for the health and safety of the children in our care extremely seriously.

"We have always accepted our accountability for the finger guards and all our nurseries now have these fitted on all doors accessed by children.

"We sincerely regret the accident in 2009 and are pleased that the child made a good recovery and still attends our nursery."

James Windsor, Broadland Council's environmental health officer, said: "This prosecution is a timely reminder to other nurseries that they should look regularly at their safety procedures and regimes to make sure they are up to standard."

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