Housing association is fined over scalding death

Following the death of a man from burns received from a scalding hot bath, Midland Heart, a housing association, has been fined £100 000 and ordered to pay £35 000 costs. Following the hearing in Birmingham Magistrates Court, the Heating & Ventilating Contractors’ Association has warned of the dangers of relying on high temperatures to combat the risk of legionella.

The association pleaded guilty to breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act. Birmingham Council started proceedings relating to two separate scalding incidents in hostels run by the association. The council argued that Heart had failed to ensure that the water outlet temperature was properly controlled to avoid scalding.

Every year, about 20 people die as a result of scalds caused by hot bath water, and about 600 people suffer serious scald injuries.

Blane Judd, chief executive of HVCA, comments, ‘One of the reasons cited for high water temperature is the need to control legionella bacteria, and we are aware that building operators, particularly in the healthcare sector, have argued that water temperatures have been increased purely to combat the risk of legionella.

‘However, an increase in the risk of scalding cannot be justified as a consequence of introducing precautions against legionella. Water should be delivered to a bath or shower outlet at no more than 46°C and prevented from being discharged at greater than 46°C from taps which may be accessible to children, older and more vulnerable people.’

He continues, ‘We, along with other industry bodies, support the installation of mixing controls (TMVs) and the ongoing maintenance and updating of existing hot-water systems to ensure they are fitted with TMVs.’

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