Leading Medical Business Receives Half a Million Sanction After Child Leg Is Amputated

| General


In late January 2023, the Magistrates Court in West Hampshire handed down its decision to a leading business specialising in professional services in the care home industry in which it imposed a financial criminal sanction in the amount of just shy of half-a-million pounds for violations of its legal obligations in the wake of an incident whereby a tree fell and inflicted extremely serious injuries to an eight-year-old child. The extent of the injuries was so severe that the medical team in charge of the medical care of the girl sadly advised that the leg could not be saved and had to be removed by amputation. 

What Happened In The Case?

To assess the magnitude of this troubling event we have to go back to early July 2021. Like similar events of this kind, the day started like any other, the child appears to have been going about her daily business and had been running with her parents. The journey was progressing well. However, at some point, the runners were near a care home door and a tree appears to have fallen onto her. The damage inflicted was so significant that it caused crush-related injuries. The damage sustained tragically meant that her leg needed removal by medical intervention in the form of amputation surgery. When the Health and Safety Executive investigated it discovered evidence indicating that the tree was suffering from decay caused by a well-known fungal plant. The HSE commented that the extent of the rotting was so severe because it had been left in this deteriorating condition many years before the incident took place.       

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

On examining the facts in front of it, the industry regulator the HSE was damning the behaviour of the residential care home organisation’s in the instant case. It carried out a probe into what had taken place and discovered compelling evidence that the organisation had neglected its duty to mitigate the risk of tree-related injuries being sustained in the accident. The regulatory body commented that the medical business had neglected its duties towards the young girl in the following ways, including but not limited to:

  • failing to assess the risks associated with trees which were located near its business premises
  • ignoring the legal obligations to conduct surveys on the offending tree promptly
  • insufficient oversight of the tree by allowing it to deteriorate into such a dangerous condition
  • neglected in its duty to spot issues related to the unsafe nature of the tree
  • closing its eyes and missing an opportunity to repair the offending tree and
  • not taking any action to mitigate the risk of the tree falling.  

Feet to the Fire?

When the industry oversight body, the Health and Safety Executive examined the evidence associated with the events leading up to the incident it made allegations against the business that it had violated section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. In the Magistrates Court, the organisation openly admitted to the charges of not protecting the Health and Safety of those persons who are not employed by the business and may be impacted by its activity. By way of punishment for the medical business and as a deterrent to mitigate the risk of future unprofessional behaviour being exhibited by similar persons the Health and Safety Exhibited decided to level a stinging financial sanction in the form of a half—a—million. 

Lessons Learned?

The Regulator commented that such accidents are preventable if responsible businesses implement measures to mitigate the risk by professionally reviewing trees and taking care of their upkeep. 

ASSESSING FIRMS

#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP #RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP

THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Health and Safety Executive  – Bupa Care Homes Fined £400k after falling tree crushes child – Bupa Care Homes fined £400k after falling tree crushes child | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 2] Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 

[SOURCE 3] Health and Safety Executive – Management of the risk from falling trees or branches – SIM/01/2007/05 - Management of the risk from falling trees or branches - FOI - HSE

[SOURCE 4] HSE – Firm find after blind man falls into an open manhole – 15 December 2022 - Firm fined after blind man falls into open manhole | HSE Media Centre

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