HSE warning after Council Prosecution

Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA) on 2008-02-05 09:50:57

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning those with a duty of care to vulnerable people to ensure that bedrails are in good condition and fitted properly. It is also essential that their staff are appropriately trained in using the equipment. Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council were fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,675 at Cardiff Crown Court after pleading guilty to a charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and a further two charges under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The charges follow an incident in April 2003 at the council’s Clwyd Wen respite home, Miskin, which resulted in the death of 23-year-old Adam Morris of Beddau. Mr Morris, who had cerebral palsy, was put in a bed fitted with bedrails that were not properly maintained or adjusted. He was injured when his head became trapped in the gap between the headboard and the bedrail, resulting in asphyxiation and severe brain damage. He subsequently died in hospital. HSE inspector Siân Clayton said: “The death of Adam Morris’ death resulted from a failure by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council to manage the risks from bedrails. Adam’s bed had been fitted with bedrails intended to keep him safe. Instead, because they were in poor condition and incorrectly fitted, Adam was exposed to unnecessary risk. The care staff who were required to adjust the bedrails had not been trained in how to do so properly and had no access to instructions. “The dangers of poorly maintained and incorrect fitting of bedrails is well documented. It is imperative that staff working in care homes recognise the dangers that loose and wrongly fitted bedrails create and organisations with responsibility for providing care to the most vulnerable people should take heed of this case.”

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