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£100,000 fine after disabled teenager fatally scalded

 

A care home provider has been fined £100,000 with costs of £45,000 after a disabled teenager was lowered into a bath of scalding water and died from her injuries. Yelena Hasselberg-Langley, 18, suffered severe burns when she was lowered into the excessively hot bath at a supported living home in Oxfordshire. Lifeways Community Care Ltd - which runs the home on Owens Way, Oxford - was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court today after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Ms Hasselberg-Langley was a resident at the home and required 24-hour care. She was registered blind, was paraplegic and had epilepsy. On 27 August 2007 she was lowered into a bath of excessively hot water and suffered severe burns. She was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford before being transferred to the specialist burns unit at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. Ms Hasselberg-Langley died on 31 August 2007. Lifeways, who are registered at 118 Garratt Lane, London, had pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974. This was a successful joint investigation which was initially led by Thames Valley Police (TVP) with technical assistance from HSE. The TVP report was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided that they would not pursue criminal proceedings against any of the individuals involved. The HSE then continued with the criminal investigation. The court heard that the HSE investigation found that although the bath was fitted with a special valve to prevent scalding, this valve had never been set. In addition to this, staff had no training in the risks of scalding and there was no bath thermometer. Following the incident, Lifeways Community Care Ltd, were issued with an Improvement Notice by HSE requiring them to establish proper procedures to minimise the chance of a similar incident occurring. HSE Inspector, Nina Judkins, said: "It is difficult to imagine a more vulnerable resident than Yelena. The risk of scalding to people who are so vulnerable that they cannot prevent harm to themselves is a well-known danger in the care industry. "The consequences of scalding can, in addition to causing excruciating pain, be fatal - as so shockingly seen in this case. "HSE has extensive, freely-available guidance on how the risk of scalding can be controlled. If this guidance had been followed then this tragedy would not have happened. "Everyone involved with the care of vulnerable service users must ensure that they have the necessary safeguards in place. Cases like this are completely avoidable if the correct guidance is followed."

 
News Date :
22-Jan-2010