A CHILD suffered severe burns after sitting in a puddle of corrosive cleaning fluid while learning to swim.

First Stroke Swim School which operates a teaching pool in Stanway have been fined £10,500 after the incident in May last year.

Health and safety officers at Colchester Council launched a probe after the child, aged three, complained her legs were hurting after sitting by the side of the pool.

Her mother took her to Colchester Hospital where it was confirmed she had first and second degree burns.

It emerged a contractor had undertaken maintenance work earlier in the day using the company’s own supply of sodium hypochlorite to hand-dose the pool water – tipping an unknown quantity from a 20-litre container into each end of the pool.

A small amount of the chemical had spilt onto the side of the pool where the child later sat.

Council officers served First Strokes Swim Schools Ltd, which has a training pool in Lake Meadows park, in Billericay, two improvement notices for its lack of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessments and no safety system for hand-dosing the pool with water treatment chemicals.

Although the company later provided several policy documents, they were received after the expiry of the improvement notices, and neither the COSHH assessments nor the hand dosing procedure submitted were deemed suitable enough by the investigator to demonstrate compliance.

The firm admitted three health and safety offences under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as well as a failure to comply with two improvement notices at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

District Judge John Woollard handed out the fine and ordered First Strokes to pay 2,350 costs and a £170 victim surcharge

Council public safety boss Mike Lilley (Lab) said: “Health and safety regulations exist for good reason, and businesses and employers have a responsibility to protect their staff and customers' safety and welfare.

“As a result of failures to implement simple procedures to protect the public from exposure to hazardous substances, a vulnerable child was harmed.

“The public should be reassured that we take a very dim view of any business that fails to put health and safety first and whose actions lead to personal injury. We will always investigate any breaches of health and safety regulations reported to us and where they meet the required legal threshold, those found to be breaking the law will be prosecuted.”