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Housing association fined £75,000 after disabled man died following scalding

A Scottish housing association has been fined £75,000 after a 60-year-old disabled man died two weeks after he sustained severe scalding.

Ark Housing Association had been contracted through a local authority to provide care for Joseph Hobbin, who suffered from both cerebal palsy and epilepsy and had limited movement.

Mr Hobbin was being assisted into a bath in his own home in Haddington on 26 June 2013 by a care worker employed by Ark.

According to the Health & Safety Executive, when the care worker lowered Mr Hobbin’s legs into the bath he suffered a prolonged epileptic fit. As the care worker tried to assist Mr Hobbin his legs remained in the water and he sustained extensive scalding to his feet and lower legs. He died 14 days later in hospital.

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Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Mr Hobbin required support with all aspects of day-to-day living, including bathing.

It also heard Mr Hobbin had a particular love of being in the water and his support plan contained a plan for washing and dressing. This noted that he did not like his baths to be too hot.

The HSE’s investigation found that that Ark Housing Association staff did not receive training or instruction in relation to bath and shower temperature and the company was not aware of guidance in relation to safe bathing.

The company did not provide thermometers to staff and they did not carry out adequate risk assessments in relation to the bathing of service users, including Joseph Hobbin, it revealed.

Ark Housing Association Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 and were fined £75,000.

After sentencing HSE Inspector Hazel Dobb said: “The risks associated with scalding during bathing and showering are well documented both in HSE and Industry Guidance but Ark Housing Association failed to implement adequate precautions to reduce the risk of scalding because they believed that this was a common sense activity.

“Failing to provide adequate training, instruction and supervision to its workers resulted in a vulnerable elderly man losing his life. Ark Housing Association Ltd immediately took steps to remedy its failings following this tragic incident but sadly this was too late for Mr Hobbin.”

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