Aged care operator fined $10k after resident dies as a result of burns

Aged Care Group Pty Ltd (ACG) operates nine aged care facilities across Victoria, including Northern Gardens in Coburg North (the workplace).

On January 6, 2019, one of the ‘high care’ residents sustained serious burn injuries when another resident, a dementia and Alzheimer's sufferer, took the stainless-steel jug of hot coffee from the afternoon tea trolley and poured it over her. The trolley had been left in a pre-determined designated area in the corridor.

The resident was taken to hospital where she passed away one week later due to complications arising from thermal burns.

Victoria Police conducted an investigation, but recommended that no further action be taken against the resident with dementia.

Following the incident, ACG implemented control measures for food trolleys and the service of hot beverages, which would ensure that unattended trolleys would not be accessible to residents.  They also replaced the stainless-steel jugs with portable urns.

WorkSafe investigated the incident and charges were laid.  AGC pleaded guilty to one charge under s26(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. The company was without conviction fined $10,000, and ordered to pay the prosecution's costs of $4,200.

Aged care catering firm enters into enforceable undertaking after resident burnt

Cater Care Australia Operations Pty Ltd ('Cater Care') were engaged to provide catering services for residents at an aged care facility in Frankston South, including the provision of morning and afternoon tea.  There were risks to the health and safety of residents in that there were risks of:

  • residents being given the wrong food or beverage by Cater Care employees; and/or
  • Cater Care's employees not knowing the location of the emergency or call buttons should an emergency occur.

On 11 January 2018 a Cater Care employee provided a resident with a black coffee for afternoon tea in the dining area. The resident was unable to communicate, was mostly immobile and had limited upper body strength. She was served the black coffee in an over bed table service. A couple of minutes later the worker heard a sound, and saw the resident kicking her arms and legs around after the black coffee had spilled onto her upper thigh. The catering assistant went to find assistance. As a result of the incident the resident received a serious burn injury. The resident passed away two weeks later. WorkSafe do not maintain Cater Care's alleged failure resulted in the resident's death.

It is alleged that Cater Care failed to ensure that its employees:

  • had sufficient information to perform their tasks correctly; and/or
  • were sufficiently inducted at the site they were working at, so they knew where the emergency or call buttons were located in the event of an incident or emergency.

WorkSafe accepted an Enforceable Undertaking in lieu of prosecution.

To find out whether there are any new prosecutions before next week, check WorkSafe Prosecution Result Summaries and Enforceable Undertakings webpage.

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