Death at care home leads to huge fine

Life Style Care plc was ordered to pay fines and costs of £133,000 by St Albans Crown Court after a patient suffering from dementia was crushed by a wardrobe. The company admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The court heard that the patient’s condition caused her to obsess about the cold and to wear many layers of clothing. The care home, in Watford, had locked the wardrobe door to prevent this behaviour but had not secured the wardrobe adequately to the wall. When the 64-year-old woman tried to gain access to her clothes, the wardrobe toppled over and she was trapped beneath, dying of compression asphyxia. It was found that the screws used to attach the wardrobe to the wall were too short, and that care home management had not given the maintenance manager any information, instruction or training in how to carry out the work.

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