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Boy Left With Third-Degree Burns After Falling Into Chemicals At Swimming Pool

14/08/2014 16:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Boy in swimming pool

A toddler was left permanently scarred after suffering third degree burns when he fell into chemicals in a swimming pool changing room.

A court has now ordered the company responsible for the incident to pay more than £65,000.

Leisure Connection Ltd, which ran Uttlesford District Council's leisure centre in Essex entered a guilty plea after being accused of breaching health and safety regulations.

They were fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £20,746 over the accident on February 18 2012 which left the two-year-old boy covered in the toxic chemicals after he slipped in the changing rooms.

The boy had slipped and fell into a puddle of highly corrosive chemicals which had been poured down a smelly drain. The toddler's dad immediately pulled him to his feet but noticed that his buttocks and the back of his right thigh were already blistering 'like a cheese grater'.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told that the boy was subsequently airlifted to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford where he spent 10 nights.

The Herts and Essex Observer reports that his injuries were third degree, full skin thickness burns from the caustic soda, or sodium hydroxide.

The child had skin grafts and was left with permanent scarring.

Judge David Turner QC told the court that Leisure Connection Ltd had put the public at risk.

"That risk was foreseeable, significant and avoidable," he said. "The company failed properly to eliminate the risk which could have been achieved by relatively simple procedures in the use of the chemicals – protection of the immediate area. It didn't have a proper system in place."

He said that the area was not cordoned off after a member of staff member poured 'DB Stop' liquid down the drain.

He said he accepted that the accident was not caused 'by cutting corners or to save time or money' but said it was symptomatic of not having a proper system in place in a public facility where people were 'running about with bare flesh and bare feet'.

Passing sentence, Judge Turner said: "The little boy had only momentary contact with a toxic puddle which had developed as part of a cleaning process. The puddle had remnants of a strong cleaning fluid which was sufficient in seconds to burn this little boy very badly indeed."

He said the child, who is now four, has been left more fragile than he used to be and was more clingy and anxious.

"He has suffered permanent scarring, though mercifully it's not envisaged any restriction of movement or long-term function problem. There may, of course, be cosmetic and psychological issues continuing into the future," he said.

The child's family has launched a civil claim which is still ongoing.

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