Care home owner in court

Gavel and weights

After being advised by medical professionals that at an elderly relative could not be left safely at home alone, due to his risk of falling, his family admitted him to a care home for emergency care. Four days later he became trapped between a wardrobe and a radiator after falling whilst alone in his room and died in hospital from his injuries eight days later.

During the investigation it was found that direct contact with the radiator pipe and valves with temperatures reaching around 73 degrees centigrade resulted in serious burns right through the skin of his right leg. It was suspected that hot water leaking from the valve also caused the superficial burns that were present on both legs.

The 85 year old resident was admitted to hospital for emergency care after suffering the serious burns and died in hospital from his injuries.

It was also found that the care home failed to assess the risks in the resident’s room, having received information he was at risk of falls and injury. Appropriate action was not taken to control and manage the risk, such as covering or boxing in hot pipes and valves.

The care home pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay a further £35,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, an HSE inspector said:

“This was a foreseeable and preventable fatal incident. While most of the residents at [the care home] are physically disabled with limited mobility, [this resident] was not. He was more mobile, and known to be so, hence at greater danger from any risks in his room.

The scalding or burning risks from the pipes were longstanding and could have caused injury to any resident. [The care home] failed to heed published guidance from the HSE about the need to cover hot pipes and valves.”

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