Council fined £48k after girl dragged into lathe

Nadine Craig was 14 when her scarf got caught in a lathe, leaving her with serious burns and a 28cm scar. Picture: Contributed
Nadine Craig was 14 when her scarf got caught in a lathe, leaving her with serious burns and a 28cm scar. Picture: Contributed
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A SCOTTISH council has been fined £48,000 for health and safety breaches after a schoolgirl was almost strangled when the scarf she was wearing became entangled in a lathe.

Nadine Craig, who was 14 at the time, was pulled towards the powerful machine and was left with serious burns on her neck.

She received 40 stitches in a 28cm wound and it was six months before she returned to Galashiels Academy in the Borders following the incident almost six years ago.

At Selkirk Sheriff Court yesterday, Scottish Borders Council pleaded guilty to failing to have a proper guard on the Colchester Colt 600 lathe.

It also admitted not carrying out risk assessments on machines in the Craft and Design Technology classes over a period of almost three years. The failures resulted in the third-year pupil suffering severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

The council had said there had been “tension” with the teacher over risk assessments – he stated he was not trained nor had the time to do them.

In his findings, Sheriff Kevin Drummond said: “It was wrong of him to fail to comply and it was wrong of the authority to allow it to continue.”

He also pointed out a guard was available for the machine for £260 plus fitting costs.

Sheriff Drummond described the offences as a “serious failure” and said the gravity of the breach meant he would impose a fine of £72,000. He awarded the council full credit for the early guilty plea and reduced the fine to £48,000.

At an earlier hearing the council said the teacher was “removed from classroom duties after this incident and shortly afterwards took early retirement”.

Miss Craig, now 20, was awarded £27,000 when a civil claim for damages was settled in 2011. But after sitting through yesterday’s court case she said she was still unhappy at not receiving a personal apology from the teacher.

Miss Craig – who has since moved from Galashiels to Fife and works in a bar – said: “No-one has been punished for what happened. It was terrifying at the time. I could have died.

“I was off school for six months because of this. The school wanted rid of me so I would not be there when the teacher was in school.

“I never got an apology from the teacher. Not a personal apology from anyone. There was one in court, but it could have been to anyone.

“I am still paranoid about wearing scarves.”

She added: “I had to move away because there so many stories going round blaming me.

“I gave a statement a long time ago and after that I have been left on my own. No-one has been near me to help.”

Scottish Borders Council said the fine would be paid from an unallocated reserve fund so services would not be affected.