Care home’s failure led to support worker being bitten

19 May 2015

Regardless of where you work, you have the right to be protected from preventable risks. Employers have a duty to ensure employees’ health and safety is taken care of during working hours.

In practice, all employers are expected to conduct a risk assessment to avoid potential danger at the work place. One recent personal injury case demonstrates potential consequences when risk assessments are not carried out. We’ve changed names to protect identities for the sharing of this real-life incident.
An unanticipated response from a resident
‘Fiona’ had been working for a community care home in West Yorkshire for several years and knew her job well. During one of her shifts, she was called upon to give out first aid to a resident who had suffered a nosebleed.

During treatment the resident grabbed Fiona’s left hand and bit her index finger. Fiona removed her latex gloves and informed her team leader, who advised her to clean her hand under running water. As Fiona’s hand hurt, the home’s deputy manager took her to the hospital, where she was examined. Doctors decided that an x-ray was needed, and this revealed that the bite had fractured her index finger.

She was prescribed painkillers and also antibiotics – human bites can easily become infected. Fortunately she did not require stitches, or a blood test or treatments for infections like such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV, which can be passed on through such a bite.

No risk assessment for administering first aid

Fiona’s accident had been recorded in the company’s accident book – a requirement for all workplaces to keep a record of any risks; this information is useful, but not necessary, if an injured employee decides to make a claim for personal injury against their employer’s insurer.

The care home was found to be responsible for Fiona’s injury because they had only carried out a partial risk assessment: the resident’s behaviour had been assessed generally but had not included close contact situations, such as the administering of first aid.

Fiona should have been given arm guards to protect her from bites, scratches and cuts; at the time of the accident no-one at the home was aware of where they were and they were only located three weeks afterwards.

As a result the care home put proper risk assessment and health and safety procedures into place to protect its employees. While Fiona recovered quickly and did not suffer any infection or after-effects, she did take some time off work due to the pain. Her application for personal injury compensation was successful and she received almost £2,000.

If you have suffered an injury at work because of a health and safety failure, you might be able to apply for personal injury compensation. Speak to an advisor today to find out more.