Company fined over hoist death in care home

PUBLISHED: 14:27 07 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

THE death of a severely-disabled man who fell from a hoist has resulted in the company running his care home being prosecuted in court. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took MacIntyre Care to St Albans Magistrates Court following the death of Mark We

THE death of a severely-disabled man who fell from a hoist has resulted in the company running his care home being prosecuted in court.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took MacIntyre Care to St Albans Magistrates Court following the death of Mark Westbrook, aged 56, of Crosby Close Care Home in the city in March 2007.

The company, which has its head office in Milton Keyes, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,476 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Mr Westbrook fell from his hoist after being lifted by an inexperienced carer at the care home in February last year. A cerebral palsy sufferer who was both blind and deaf, he had been living at Crosby Close for eight years.

He broke his right femur and elbow in the fall and after a short stay in hospital he returned to the care home. But he was taken back to Hemel Hempstead Hospital a short time later.

He was diagnosed as suffering from severe pneumonia which later developed into a blood infection which killed him.

At the inquest in January, Herts coroner Edward Thomas said that on the balance of probabilities, the fall at the care home was a secondary cause of death.

Recording a verdict of a narrative death, he said he would be writing to the Commission for Social Care Inspection to recommend that they made sure all care homes used two carers to operate a hoist.

HSE Inspector Rubeena Surnam said after last week's court hearing: "This was a needless death. I hope it demonstrates to care home employers that they need to take positive steps to identify the risks in their workplaces and manage them.

"Employers must be sure they adopt safe systems of work and care staff are trained in the use of equipment such as hoists and aware of the potential risks involved.

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