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Powys County Council has been fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,000 after a four-year-old boy nearly drowned during a swimming lesson.

Swansea Crown Court heard how the boy’s father had gone to collect him from the lesson when he found him lying face down in the water. The boy was pulled from the pool and revived on the side and has fortunately made a full recovery, despite being deprived of oxygen for some time.

The court heard how the boy was taking part in a mixed-age and ability play session at the end of his swimming lesson at the Bro Ddyfi Leisure Centre when he got into difficulty. The lifeguard who was on duty was otherwise engaged putting out lane-ropes for the following session, while other instructors were completing paperwork or in conversation with other parents.

An investigation by the HSE found that Powys County Council had failed to properly assess the risks of the swimming lessons; particularly the part where mixed abilities and ages were allowed to take part in free play. The council failed to define the positions or roles of the staff present and failed to deal with the distraction caused by the parents coming onto the pool-side at the end of lessons. They pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Gary Martin said: “Free play for children learning to swim is an important activity in building their confidence in the water. However, the risks of mixing swimmers of limited ability with children who may be older or stronger in the water must be managed correctly. The council could have taken simple steps that would not have led to a parent’s worst nightmare of finding their child floating unconscious in a swimming pool. Evan is lucky his father turned up when he did.”

If you or someone you care for has been injured while they should have been under supervision, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Public bodies, and the places run by them, have a responsibility for the health and safety not only of their employees, but of anyone who uses their facilities. Our solicitors have years of experience in dealing with cases like these, and will quickly be able to talk through your case and decide whether or not it would be advisable to make a claim. Contact us today to see how we can help you get the pay out you deserve.