Harpenden man fined for sling fall death of centenarian at care home

May Ward died at the age of 100.

May Ward died at the age of 100. - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden man has been ordered to pay £250,000 in fines and costs after a 100-year-old woman died from injuries after falling from a hoist at a care home.

May Ward was a former RAF cook.

May Ward was a former RAF cook. - Credit: Photo supplied

May Ward was being moved by carers at Meppershall Care Home in Bedfordshire, on August 28, 2010, when she fell from a sling and suffered multiple fractures when she struck the floor, including to her skull, hip and knee.

Luton Crown Court heard last Friday (27) that the centenarian died at Lister Hospital in Stevenage the following day as a result of her injuries.

Owners of the nursing home GA Projects Ltd and its director Mohammed Zarook, of Sauncey Wood, were sentenced after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Zarook pleaded guilty to breaching section three of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000.

The court was told that Mrs Ward fell while she was being moved by two carers between a chair and a bed using a hoist.

HSE established that Mrs Ward’s death could have been prevented had a better system for handling and moving residents, supported by appropriate staff training, been in place.

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The sling used to move Mrs Ward was very complicated to fit correctly and the carers, who were given no training in how to safely use it, had not securely positioned her within it.

The court was told there was a history of serious safety breaches at the care home - HSE had served five improvement notices between October and December 2010 relating to deficiencies and risks to residents.

Inspectors found evidence that another resident had fractured two bones in her leg after falling while being moved from her wheelchair to her armchair in September 2009. But this incident had not been reported to HSE.

Despite having no knowledge or experience in running care homes, Zarook proceeded to take vulnerable residents into his three care homes.

Meppershall Care Home was closed in July 2013 following concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission during a further inspection.

GA Projects Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly £37,000.

After sentencing, HSE inspector Emma Page criticised Zarook, saying, “Mrs Ward’s death was a wholly preventable tragedy caused by unacceptable management failings on the part of GA Projects Ltd and Mr Zarook.

“They put vulnerable residents at the care home at unnecessary risk.”