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Hot tar spilled on fans.

Byline: Eryl Crump and David Powell

TWO eight-year-old girls needed hospital treatment after hot tar showered spectators during a children's tennis tournament in North Wales, a court was told yesterday.

Contractors Owens Roofing, of Edern, Pwllheli, who were working on the roof at Colwyn Leisure Centre last July, were fined pounds 3,500 by Llandudno Magistrates.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to take steps to avoid injury.

A "large blob" of tar fell on one girl's legs, hands and thighs in the incident The second girl suffered severe burning to her right shin bone in two places.

Magistrates ordered the firm to pay pounds 3,500 in fines and costs within three months.

Both girls, from Wrexham, needed first aid and were treated for blisters at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan.

The company claimed that the accident was caused because the centre's owners, Conwy County Borough Council, had refused to close the sports hall.

Alex Frodsham, defending, also claimed the council had refused the company's suggestion to put plywood sheets under the working area to prevent the bitumen from falling on the sports floor.

"This suggestion was rejected by Conwy Council due to budgetary constraints. The situation could have been avoided if the sports hall had been closed or extra money spent to prevent spillage, " he said.

The company, he added, had relied on centre staff to cordon off the area and had not checked that this work had been carried out.

Mr Frodsham argued the breach of safety rules was "quite small."

He urged the bench to treat the company leniently, claiming that trading conditions were difficult and it was facing a massive rise in its insurance premiums.

Tudor Williams, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told the court how Conwy Council officer Medwyn Williams met Owens Roofing staff on April 18, 2001, to talk about "protocol" for the work - due to start on May 21 last year.

The prosecutor said: "Medwyn Williams said that the sports hall would be in use. It was vital that full liaison be carried out with the leisure centre manager."

He added: "It does not take much common sense or imagination to realise that people working on a roof of a hall where members of the public are sitting as spectators or participating in sport have a duty to have regard to safety."

The prosecutor concluded: "They flagrantly abused health and safety regulations. It was a case of careless attention to what was needed to protect these two girls and other schoolchildren in the hall where work was being carried out.

"The regulations say that the defendant in the interests of safety must take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent any person being struck by falling materials or objects liable to cause injury. They 'failed' to do so."

The court heard that the company, established 20 years ago, had a good record with no convictions and no cautions.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2002
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