• Robert Spicer

Scottish care home scalding: company and employee fined

Care home scalding: company and employee fined

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service v Sharon Dunlop and Real Life Options (2015) Livingston Sheriff Court, October 22

A care home company and one of its employees have been sentenced following an incident in which a resident suffered 40 percent burns in a scalding bath.

Significant points of the case

  • In August 2013 Nicola Jones, a resident of a care home in Bathgate, was given a bath by Sharon Dunlop, a care support worker. Dunlop failed tro check the temperature of the water. Ms Jones was scalded. She required major surgery and now has to use a wheelchair.

  • Employees were supposed to check the water temperature before a service user bathed, and to make a record of this check. The company did not provide written instructions confirming this.

Sharon Dunlop was sentenced to a community payback order to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work over 10 months, for a breach of section 7, HSW Act. This section states, in summary, that it is the duty of every employee at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of any other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.

Real Life Options, the care home provider, was fined £20,000 under section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

An HSE inspector is reported to have commented after the case that the injuries had been easily preventable by the simple act of checking the water temperature. Employers should ensure that their staff are provided with a thermometer and training in the safety aspects of bathing or showering people for whom they provide personal care.

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