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April 8, 2014

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Hotel fined after beautician suffers serious burns


A hotel in St Annes, Lancashire has been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £9,075 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge following an incident in which its beautician employee was engulfed in a fireball.
The Dalmeny Hotel Ltd pleaded guilty to three charges at a hearing at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on 12 March. The sentence was imposed at a re-adjourned court hearing on 1 April.
Thirty eight beautician and spa manager Julie McKeown needed hospital treatment, including skin grafts, for burns to her chest, neck and arms after acetone she was using to remove a customer’s fingernails was spilled from an overly large container.
Fumes from the spilled acetone were ignited by a tealight in a nearby lantern causing the burns that covered 15 per cent of Mrs McKeown’s body. The elderly customer escaped injury.
Mrs McKeown is pursuing a separate compensation claim against the Lancashire hotel through the civil courts.
Flyde Council launched an investigation into the January 2012 incident after the hotel reported it.
The probe showed that Mrs McKeown used a 2.5-litre container to pour the highly flammable acetone into pads, which she intended to apply to the customer’s artificial nails. If the employer had provided a smaller container, spillage would have been less likely.
Micky Duck, Flyde Council environmental health officer, said: “All employers have a duty to provide a safe environment for staff and customers and it was clear that the hotel hadn’t taken the correct precautions. 
“Fumes from spilled acetone are heavier than air so they sank to the floor and, as they did so, they were ignited by the tealight in the lantern causing conflagration, which engulfed Mrs McKeown. Fortunately, the customer leaned away very quickly and so was uninjured.”
Investigating officers found that the hotel hadn’t adequately assessed the risks caused by the use of such a large container of acetone and also by the proximity of the tealight.
Mr Duck added: “Such a risk assessment and a separate consideration under the Control of Substances Harmful to Health would have averted the dangers which were plain to see. The council did not hesitate to bring charges as the degree of danger could have been averted very simply.
“Mrs McKeown’s plight is serious and we wish her well in her recovery.”

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