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24th March 2017
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Big fine hits care home after disabled man scalded
A Cornish care home blasted as "criminally negligent" for scalding a vulnerable disabled resident could have easily prevented the accident occurring at all, according to anti-scald expert Inta.
Paul Cundy, 64, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and learning disabilities, was hospitalised for four weeks after being placed in a bath where the water was too hot, resulting in second-degree burns to 10% of his body.
The incident, in 2008, occurred after the temperature regulator of his bath had been disconnected for six years, leading the Health & Safety Executive to brand the home "criminally negligent".
Comhome and Solor Care, the owners, were fined £10,000 each and had to pay costs totalling £62,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of section three of the Health & Safety at Work Act.
"Being negligent with anti-scald equipment has moral and financial implications and this incident shows how expensive a scalding claim can be," warns Stuart Gizzi, managing director of Inta (pictured). "Disconnecting an anti-scald device takes as much, if not more effort than replacing it. Leaving it disconnected is totally irresponsible.
"We are very sorry to hear of the injuries that Mr Cundy suffered, but we are pleased to see how seriously the Health & Safety Executive has treated the incident. But fines do not rebuild lives or heal injuries - proper care and maintenance prevents them in the first place.
"Although there has been a requirement for thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) devices within healthcare or social care environments for many years now, they do require an annual maintenance check to ensure they are still operating correctly.
"Their correct operation can, over time become restricted by limescale or dirt. Maintenance is simple and there is really no excuse for it not to be included on a care home's regular maintenance schedule."
Care homes have a duty of care requirement that can encourage them to use TMVs, both to limit the risk of scalding and to ensure that water is at a comfortable temperature that does not discourage hand washing. The use of TMV3 valves is essential in such establishments.
Inta also advises that any temperature above 44°C can potentially be dangerous, or even deadly.
More information on anti-scald valves, their correct specification and maintenance can be found at:
25th January 2013