A care home company has today been fined almost half a million pounds after an elderly resident fell from her first floor window and died.
Guildford Crown Court heard that the 87-year-old was staying at the Coppice Lea Nursing home in Surrey, owned and managed by Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited. In the early hours of 3 October 2013, the woman fell about four metres through her window.
She was reported missing at 1am and found two hours later. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the window restrictor in place, which normally prevents the window from opening fully, was easily overridden and therefore not fit for purpose.
Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited of The Colchester Business Park, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was today fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,762.44.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rebekah Dunn said: “It was clear from our investigation that the window restrictor was simply not doing the job of preventing the window from opening. It is alarming, and tragic, that an 87-year-old woman with dementia was able to defeat it.
“Caring Homes therefore failed to ensure the woman’s safety, which is particularly important given its unique position of trust. All windows that are large enough for people through should be restrained sufficiently to prevent such falls. The 100mm benchmark should only be allowed to disengage using a special tool or key.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
- HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk