Radiator pipes and valve burns lead to care home death

hseThe owner of a Leicester care home has been fined £100,000 after a vulnerable 85-year-old resident died from serious burns.

Walter Powley was admitted to Western Park View in Hinckley Road for emergency care in May 2012 after an occupational therapist advised his family he could no longer be safely left alone at home due to his risk of falling.

Leicester Crown Court heard that four days later, on May 8, Mr Powley fell in his room and became trapped between a wardrobe and a radiator. He suffered serious burns right through the skin of his right leg from the radiator pipe and valves, and superficial burns to both legs probably from hot water leaking from the valve. He died in hospital from his injuries eight days later.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the pipes and valves at the home, owned by Western Park Leicester, were not covered and to touch had temperatures of around 73ºC.

It also found Western Park Leicester was aware that Mr Powley was at risk of falls and injury and that staff should be vigilant, but the company failed to assess the risks in his room and take appropriate action to control and manage them.

Western Park Leicester 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.

HSE inspector, Dr Richenda Dixon, said:

“This was a foreseeable and preventable fatal incident. While most of the residents at Western Park View are physically disabled with limited mobility, Walter 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. Western Park Leicester failed to heed published guidance from the HSE about the need to cover hot pipes and valves. Had they been covered or boxed-in Walter’s death could have been prevented.”