The District Court has convicted and fined an early childhood centre after a tree in the playground fell in winds and injured four children and one teacher.

The tree in the playground was very large, up to 12 metres tall and 2½ metres in girth.  Unfortunately, the tree had died but the childhood centre and landlord took no action to remove the tree.  The tree was not even identified as a hazard, by either the landlord or the education provider.  During moderate winds the tree fell and landed on four small children and their teacher.  This resulted in serious injuries, including fractured skulls to some of the children and lesser injuries to the others.

The Court found that the tree should have been identified as a hazard and the education centre should have liaised with the landlord for it to be removed.  The early childhood centre was ordered to pay reparation of $46,000 and was fined $209,000.

The landlord will be sentenced in a hearing in due course.

All hazards must be identified and either eliminated or minimised.  The obligation rests both on the owner of the property and the organisation renting the property.

Alan Knowsley
Employment, Health & Safety & Education Lawyer