• Robert Spicer

Care scalding death: Scottish housing association fined for health and safety breach

Care scalding death: £75,000 fine

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service v Ark Housing Association Limited (2015) Edinburgh Sheriff Court, December 9

Ark Housing Association has been fined following the death by scalding of a client.

Significant points of the case

  • In June 2013 Joseph Hobbin, who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, was assisted into a bath in his home by a care worker employed by Ark.

  • As his legs were lowered into the bath he suffered an epileptic fit. His legs remained in the water and he sustained extensive scalding to his feet and lower legs. He died in hospital.

  • Mr Hobbin needed support in all aspects of day to day living. The local authority contracted Ark to provide his care.

  • Ark had not provided care workers with training or instruction in relation to bath and shower temperature. The company was not aware of guidance in relation to safe bathing. It did not provide thermometers to staff and did not carry out adequate risk assessments in relation to the bathing of service users, including the deceased.

Ark Housing Association was fined £75,000 for a breach of section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

An HSE inspector is reported to have made the following points after the case:

  • The risks associated with scalding during bathing and showering are well documented both in HSE and Industry Guidance.

  • Ark failed to implement adequate precautions to reduce the risk of scalding because it believed that this was a commonsense activity.

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