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January 18, 2011

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Disabled pensioner died following care-home lifting fall

A Catholic charity set up to help the blind has been fined £18,000 after an elderly patient at one of its care homes died following a fall she suffered while being lifted out of bed.

The Catholic Blind Institute, which runs the Christopher Grange nursing home in Liverpool, was prosecuted by the HSE for failing to carry out regular checks on lifting equipment.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Frances Shannon, 81, was confined to a wheelchair and was a permanent resident at the home. On 4 December 2008, carers were attempting to move her from her bed to a wheelchair using a sling. But as she was being moved, the sling’s straps broke free, causing Mrs Shannon to be tipped out of the device and fall three feet to the ground. She suffered a broken shoulder and injuries to her back and elbow, and died in hospital the following day.

The HSE issued an Improvement Notice on 23 December 2008, which required the charity to ensure that a qualified person carries out a safety inspection on all lifting equipment every six months.

HSE inspector Sarah Wadham said: “Mrs Shannon’s fall would have been prevented if the Catholic Blind Institute had complied with the law for using equipment to lift people.

“There should have been regular checks of the sling and it should have been thoroughly examined at least once every six months. Sadly, this did not happen.

“I would urge care providers – including NHS trusts, primary-care trusts and care homes – to ensure that they carry out the necessary examinations and inspections of lifting equipment, to prevent similar tragic incidents in the future.”

The Catholic Blind Institute appeared in court on 17 January and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 9(3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay £13,876 in costs.

In mitigation, the charity said it complied with the Improvement Notice and now subjects all lifting equipment to an external inspection twice a year. It has also trained its staff to carry out monthly safety checks on the equipment.

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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