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Elderly woman suffered personal injury after care home safety breach

A South Yorkshire council has been fined for neglecting safety precautions after an 82-year-old woman suffered personal injury in a fall at a care home.

The woman, who has dementia, suffered cuts and bruises when she fell nearly two metres into an unguarded open sewage drain at Oldfield House care home in Stainforth, near Doncaster.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive which prosecuted Doncaster Borough Council for breaching safety legislation. 

Doncaster Magistrates Court was told a recently-qualified apprentice plumber was on site clearing a blockage in a live sewage drain via a manhole just outside a fire door at the end of a corridor.

He had left the open hole exposed and the fire door open while he went back into the building to fetch water to flush the blockage.

While the hole was unguarded, the elderly resident walked down the corridor and inadvertently through the open fire door and stumbled into the open hole. She needed an overnight stay in hospital and treatment for minor cuts and bruising.

HSE told the court the Council had failed to put simple measures in place to protect residents and staff while the work was being carried out.

Doncaster Borough Council was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,040 in costs after admitting the safety breach.

After the case, HSE Inspector Tim Johnson said: “It is fortunate this lady sustained only minor bruising but she was evidently badly distressed and did need an overnight stay in hospital.

“The inexperienced plumber was sent on his own, had not been trained in safe procedures and was not supplied with barriers – a failing that has since been rectified.

“All employers must make sure they provide the necessary equipment and train their employees to carry out work in a safe manner.”

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