A housing support service for vulnerable adults and children has been fined after a disabled woman was burnt by a radiator at one of its properties.
The Action Group, which operates and leases properties that provide 24-hour care, pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches.
Victim could not tell staff about burn
A 49-year-old woman who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and severe learning disabilities was helped to shower by a support worker at a property in Edinburgh.
A radiator in the shower room was very hot and did not have an individual thermostatic control. While the support worker was aware the radiator was hot, she did not consider it to be hot enough to burn.
After showering the woman, she then helped her to step out of the shower area and take hold of a grab rail which was positioned above the radiator.
While standing over the radiator, the woman’s leg came into contact with the radiator, causing a 20cm burn to her calf.
The woman is non-verbal and has trouble balancing and could not move away from the radiator, or tell the support worker that she was in any pain. When the member of staff noticed the wound the victim was taken to a specialist burns unit.
However, the burn did not heal properly and a skin graft had to be carried out. The victim has been left with permanent scarring.
Firm knew radiator risk
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the Action Group had been alerted to the risk posed by the radiator.
A routine inspection in 2011 by Edinburgh City Council ordered the radiator to be covered to prevent scalding.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the firm also failed to carry out any general internal risk assessment regarding the danger posed by the radiator in question, although an individual assessment in relation to the injured woman identified that she was at risk from heat sources, as she might not be able to move away from them easily or quickly.
The Action Group, with a registered office at 57 Albion Road, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £8000, reduced from £12,000 for an early guilty plea.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: October 6, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown