A care home operator has been fined £270,000, after a resident of Lomond Court Care Home, Glenrothes in Fife, Scotland, who suffered symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, put chlorine tablets in his mouth and chewed them, leading to his death.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard how on 4 August 2015, a delivery of cleaning products was made to Lomond Court.

These were left unattended in a corridor, in an unsealed box. In that box was a tub containing chlorine tablets which were unwrapped, about the size of a 10 pence piece, white and similar in appearance to mints.

Staff found the resident, 72-year-old James McConnell, distressed and in pain, close to where the cleaning products had been left. There was a white tablet on the floor next to him and at least one tablet in his mouth.

The tub of chlorine tablets was lying open and three of the 200 tablets were missing. Mr McDonnell sustained an injury to his mouth and tongue as well as vomiting. As a result, he developed aspiration pneumonia, complications of which led to his death.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that prior to Mr McConnell’s death, the company had failed to assess the risk posed by several chemical products (including the chlorine tablets).

They also failed to have an adequate system of work to manage deliveries of chemical products or to have an appropriate review procedure in place for the delivery arrangements of the chemical products for a period of two years

The company pleaded guilty to breaching s.3(1) and s.33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and was fined £270,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Garry Miller said: “This distressing incident confirms the need for anyone handling potentially harmful substances to be extra vigilant in ensuring that they are not left unattended in circumstances where vulnerable people in their care can gain access to them.”

Last reviewed 4 June 2019