A nursery in Edinburgh has been fined £800,000 after a baby boy in its care died after choking on a piece of mango.
Fox Goulding began to choke while eating dinner at Bright Horizons Nursery in Corstorphine on 9 July 2019.
A staff member who returned from the toilet eventually realised the 10-month-old was not breathing. He died in hospital the next day.
The Crown Office said the death could have been preventable if staff had been properly trained and supervised.
The staff member initially thought the child was sleeping when she returned from the toilet, but then realised he was not breathing.
An ambulance was called and staff attempted to dislodge the blockage in his airway by slapping him on the back. They also performed CPR.
Paramedics were able to remove the obstruction, which was later found to be a piece of mango.
Fox was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children but died the following day.
An investigation found the employer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd, failed to provide employees at the nursery with suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes.
The investigation also found a number of other occasions when staff were involved with other tasks and therefore not watching the children eat.
On Tuesday the firm admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £800,000.
Since the child’s death the company has reviewed its policies and procedures, and provided additional training to all Scottish staff.
Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: “This tragic death could have been prevented if staff had been given suitable instruction and supervision in relation to their duties to properly supervise children’s mealtimes.
“Childcare providers have an enormous responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care, but in this case, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd failed to live up to that responsibility.
“This should serve as a warning to others of the devastating consequences of such failures.”
The Goulding family was represented by Glen Millar, a senior partner with Thompsons Solicitors, who said they did not take “even the remotest sense of satisfaction” from the outcome of the case.
He said: “They remain today as they have since 9 July 2019; numb, and frankly disbelieving at the neglect that led to their beloved son Fox losing his young life.
“Fox was abandoned by professionals who had been entrusted with his care, flying in the face not only of the laws of health and safety but also principles of common sense and decency.
“The ultimate price was paid for that and, notwithstanding today’s conviction, it is the family who continue to have to deal with the aftermath.”
Ros Marshall, the managing director of Bright Horizons, said the company offered “heartfelt apologies” to the family and had “comprehensively” reviewed its operations, including mealtime safety procedures, staff training and supervision arrangements.
She said: “Our acceptance of responsibility makes clear that the mealtime safety procedures we had in place at our Corstorphine Nursery in 2019 were not properly observed, with terrible consequences.
“Every day we care for children and fully appreciate that keeping children safe is always the first priority.”
Source: BBC News