Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been penalised by £10,000 after a vulnerable adult
receiving care was scalded by hot water.
The man was injured after he turned on the hot water tap when left alone in the bath.
The man who has moderate to severe learning difficulties lived semi-independently
at home with support care from the council.
He was scalded on his feet and buttocks as he tried to refill an empty bath on 4
May last year.
Four months earlier the comhairle had identified the hazards in a risk assessment
but the only measure they took was for staff to fill his bath and keep checking on
At Stornoway Sheriff Court the council pleaded guilty to failing to provide adequate
training, instruction and supervision to staff and also omitting to carry out a suitable
and sufficient risk assessment.
The senior social care worker who prepared the risk assessment was not aware of safe
maximum temperatures for bathing and had not received any training on personal care
or scalds and burns, said procurator fiscal Shona McJannett.
Neither were the social care staff involved trained over scalding risks nor did the
council provide thermometers.
Hot water temperature was likely to be at least 50°C and there was no thermostatic
mixing valve which would have shut off the scalding water.
Not only that but the issue of the control valves was “never addressed” by council
management nor were they fitted to any council run premises in the locality, said
A social care assistant followed the man’s care plan and earlier filled the bath,
the court heard.
She checked the water temperature with her hand and left the man to “soak and get
washed himself, checking on him periodically,” said the fiscal.
Four minutes after the last check, she returned and discovered him lying in an empty
bath and “in some distress.”
He had a burn “like a burst blister” on the side of his foot. There was similar blistering
on his buttocks.
A probe by the Health and Safety Executive discovered the council had replaced a
suction plug with a traditional type just weeks beforehand.
It is likely the man “knocked the new plug out (with his feet) causing the bath to
drain and then attempted to refill it with water from the hot tap,“ said Ms McJannett.
Council solicitor Tim Langley said the local authority was sorry the man suffered
injury due to its failure.
But there was “no flagrant disregard for the law or deliberate cutting of corners
He said the council is now fitting special valves to control water temperature within
its properties to protect vulnerable people and children against hot water injuries.
Sheriff David Sutherland fined the council £8000. He also ordered the authority to
pay the injured man £2000 compensation.
The council has improved its procedures and provided additional training to staff.
The court was told it proposes hiring a health and safety assistant to monitor buildings
and practices to ensure they comply with heath and safety duties.
Council fined after vulnerable adult scalded in bath