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A council has been hit with a £48,000 fine after it was found to have overseen health and safety failings that resulted in the disfigurement of a school child.
Galashiels Academy student Nadine Craig was forced to spend ten days in hospital and six months off school following an incident in her classroom in 2007 in which she was dragged into an unguarded lathe, reports the Southern Reporter.
Sheriff Kevin Drummond initially handed the local authority a £72,000 fine at Selkirk Sheriff Court this week, but he later reduced it to £48,000 in recognition of Scottish Borders Council's early plea.
He explained the lathe had regularly been used without a guard, despite the fact one could be purchased for around £260.
Mr Drummond said: "The degree of risk was substantial and it was one which was allowed to continue over a significant period of time. The fact that schoolchildren were, in fact, permitted to be involved in the operation of machinery in these circumstances was a serious failure."
He also refused the idea that the teacher had not been given the resources required to carry out a full risk assessment of the machine in order to decide whether it was safe for pupils to use.
A spokesman for the council said it had issued a full apology to Miss Craig and accepted it was responsible for the incident.
The representative added: "A full safety review of technical classes in all secondary schools was carried out immediately after the accident."
It remains to be seen whether the steps taken by the local authority will prevent similar occurrences in schools in the Scottish Borders in the coming months and years.
By Francesca Witney
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