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Hotel fined for burns caused to guest, 86

A hotel has been fined £50,000 after it admitted health and safety failings related to an incident in which an elderly guest was scalded while staying there.

Geoffrey Saunders, 86, spent six weeks in hospital following the incident in Ancient House, part of the Victoria Hotel in Holkham, almost two years ago.

News (2196347)
News (2196347)

The Victoria at Holkham Ltd admitted two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act over the incident during a court hearing in Huntingdon on Thursday.

The case was brought by North Norfolk District Council, who said afterwards: "We take health and safety matters extremely seriously, and will take appropriate action to enforce the safety of our residents and visitors."

Mr Saunders, from Essex, had been staying at the Victoria when the incident happened in September 2016.

The council said he suffered "catastrophic" scalding injuries while attempting to have a bath and still suffers health problems because of the severe scars left by his burns.

An investigation found that the water temperature in his bath had not been regulated to avoid such an injury despite the company having been informed by professionals both that temperature-regulating valves needed to be fitted to the taps and that "Caution: very hot water" signs should be displayed.

The authority argued that the risk had occurred because the Victoria had addressed another risk – that of Legionella infection – in a manner which created and exacerbated the scalding risk.

While in the bath, Mr Saunders attempted to top up the water. Scalding water came out of the high tap on to his back and he was unable to turn it off.

As he sought to avoid the hot water, he became trapped in the bath with scalding water pouring in.

The authority's investigation found that the hotel had failed to fit thermostatic-mixing valves to their bath taps, or act on recommendations made by its consultant to control excessively hot water, despite unsafe temperatures being routinely recorded in its temperature logs.

The design of the bath was also found to make it difficult for elderly guests to get in and out, while the company had not followed professional advice to display hot-water warning signs as it felt this would detract from the aesthetics of the decor.

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