Bristol Cathedral Choir School has been fined a total of £26,000 and ordered to pay £12,176 in costs after a chemistry experiment went wrong, resulting in injuries to a chemistry lab technician.

A highly sensitive explosive was being prepared for use in a fireworks demonstration to a class. Unfortunately, something went wrong, and the lab technician lost the top joints of his left hand index, middle and ring fingers and ruptured his bowel. This led to a 12 day stay in hospital in total.

Bristol Magistrates' Court heard that the preparation of explosive substances had been carried out in the school many times since 2009. In addition, other explosives were being stored in the school's chemistry room.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) successfully prosecuted the school, saying that the incident could have been avoided if there were clear management arrangements in place to control and review the risks posed by the use of chemicals in teaching.

Bristol Cathedral Choir School admitted that it breached the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 by failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees and by failing to carry out its undertaking in a way that ensures its pupils were not exposed to risks.

HSE inspector Susan Chivers said, “Schools need to have clear health and safety arrangements in place for their staff and students. They should set up adequate control systems and ensure that these arrangements are clearly understood and adhered to. They should also follow recognised guidance provided by CLEAPSS (formerly known as the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services) and similar organisations regarding the control of risks to health and safety in practical science work.”