AS investigations continue into how a 12-year-old boy was seriously injured at Mossley Hollins High School, a leading expert in the glass industry described it as “an accident waiting to happen”.
The boy, who was referred to as Alex, fell three floors and an estimated 40 feet from an outside walkway after a glass panel shattered.
The expert, who cannot be named for professional reasons due to the nature of his work, raised major issues, describing some buildings as “death traps” and claiming the Health and Safety Executive does not know how to treat glass.
He said: “I hear about glass falling out of buildings every week but a lot is internally and never makes the news.
“There is one building in London where over a nine-year period 17 panes of glass have fallen on to the street.
“It is called nickle sulphide inclusion and the reason why glass spontaneously breaks.
“When building control signs off these buildings, everyone thinks they are alright when in fact they are death traps.
“There are so many unsafe buildings in the UK, it is untrue. It is the glass industry’s fault and the HSE doesn’t know how to treat glass. There is a big problem in the industry.”
The accident raised serious questions about the safety of the bridge, which was immediately cordoned off and made out of bounds by headmaster Stuart Marshall.
Tameside Council health and safety staff, representatives from Robertson’s, the company maintaining the building after construction firm Carillion went into liquidation, and glass examination experts have been on site carrying out investigations.
The local authority was asked to comment and a spokesperson said: “We can’t put forward any members for comment as we are in the pre-election period.
“Additionally, this is an ongoing investigation and it is not appropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, is being kept up to date about developments.
He said: “I was shocked to hear the news and I am eager to find out what happened and what lessons can be learned once the investigations are completed.
“All schools are exceptionally safety conscious and people should not to too concerned as governors at all schools carry out risk assessments.”
Mr Reynolds described the school as “bespoke” because of its location in the valley, explaining the school was involved in its design.
The accident happened shortly after 3pm on March 19 when students were leaving school.
A glass panel shattered on the walkway and Alex fell from the third floor.
An air ambulance carrying a doctor and paramedic was summoned, though it was not needed as Alex was taken by land to Tameside General Hospital.
Mr Marshall exonerated pupils from misbehaving, saying: “The children were not at fault in any way. I have taken the time to study the events outside the building on CCTV.
“After school and into the evening I worked with our chair of governors and we had on site Tameside’s health and safety representative and Robertson’s representatives.
“I also worked with Tameside’s assistant director of education and at my insistence and as a further precaution, we had glass examination experts on site to inspect the glass used in each bridge and interior panel.”
Mr Marshall also closed off the bridge resulting in pupils having to use the central stairs to get around the building.
“Though we have not been directed to I have also insisted – as a ‘belt and braces’ job – to close off the bridge into school and the central stairs whilst all healthy and safety of the glass is tested. I will not take risks with our children’s safety,” he explained.
Mr Marshall added: “I want to take the time to thank those parents and children who were so, so supportive, helpful and considerate from the moment the accident happened.
“It is at times like these that I see just what a caring community we share.”
In the latest update in Mossley Hollins’ Newsflash issued days before the Easter break, it read:
“Parents have understandably asked for an update on Alex, the pupil involved in the accident last week.
“I am delighted to inform you that Alex continues to make a strong recovery and has been in school this week; we are looking forward to welcoming him back full time after Easter.
“I know that Alex and his wonderful family have been encouraged and delighted by all the kind messages and good wishes they have received during the last few days.
“We are delighted to say that due to the generosity of students, parents and staff the crowd-funding page has reached £1,045.”
Donations can be made online: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mossleyhollins-highschool