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Local authority fined for scalding incident

The local authority for the Western Isles has been fined £8,000 today for health and safety failings that left a 54 year-old man scalded.

At Stornoway Sheriff Court, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar pled guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The sheriff also ordered the authority to pay the injured man £2,000 compensation.

The court heard that on 4 May 2016 an employee of the council left a man, in their care, in the bath where he sustained scalding injuries to his feet and buttocks. It appeared that the man may have sustained the injuries after knocking the plug out and attempting to refill the bath himself.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the authority had failed to provide a system of work that was safe in relation to bathing residents for whom they provided support. They also failed to provide adequate training and supervision to employees and  failed to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place appropriate control measures.

The HSE guidance is that engineering controls such as thermostatic mixing valve (TMV)  should be provided to ensure that water hotter than 44ºC is not discharged from outlets that may be accessible to vulnerable people and where there is the potential for whole-body immersion.

Following the incident, the council carried out an assessment of all their properties in which they accommodate vulnerable adults and TMVs  have been fitted.

Since the incident, the local authority conducted generic and specific scalding assessments and have amended individual risk assessments where they receive support for personal care and action is being taken to fit TMVs within their properties.