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Care home fined £100,000 for the death of a 96 year old resident

Recently, the owners of Pontcanna House Care Home in Cardiff have been ordered by Cardiff Crown Court to pay £100,000 for the disastrous death of May Lewis, a 96 year old resident who had only been in their care for 5 days. In 2012, the 96 year old pensioner was wheeled to her death as her carer stepped backwards into the empty lift shaft, also leading to her own severe, life-threatening injuries. 

It emerged during the trial that the care home owners, Shirwan Al-Mufti and Nasik, had previously been given warning not to use the broken lift by engineers. In order to ensure that the lift could not be used, the engineers had locked the second floor lift door. However, the owners recklessly disregarded the advice of the professionals and directed the staff to continue using the lift anyway, with the use of an emergency key to manually open the lift doors. This overrode the safety mechanisms in place, and with no warnings given to staff about the dangers, this led to the death and serious injury of Mrs Lewis and her care worker. 

Care worker, Carol Conway, walked backwards with Mrs Lewis’ wheelchair into what she thought was the lift only to tragically find out that the platform was still positioned on the ground floor as she fell 20 feet down the lift shaft with Mrs Lewis following her. Mrs Conway suffered grave injuries from the fall including broken ribs, a broken ankle and a fractured back while Mrs Lewis was instantly killed. 

The care home owners both pleaded guilty to failing to ensure satisfactory health and safety requirements for both employees and residents, and were subsequently fined £100,000, £25,000 of which was specifically for health and safety breaches. It was heard in court that the owners had drastically failed to adhere to the warnings to not use the emergency key and further failed to perform risk assessments and training sessions for their staff so that they could safely use the lift. 

Conclusion

The owners’ considerable disregard of health and safety brings into the limelight the potential disastrous consequences of failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non-employees. This tragedy could have simply been prevented by the owners abiding by UK health and safety legislation. Not only would the care home have prevented the death and serious injury of two innocent people, but it could also have avoided the heavy fine imposed. 

If you are an employer who has concerns about managing the health and safety of your employees in line with the UK health and safety legislation, do not hesitate to contact us on 0113 3504030 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk


Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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