26th January 2023
A care home provider has been fined £400k after an eight-year-old girl suffered catastrophic injuries when a tree fell on her.
Bupa Care Homes (CFHCare) Limited pleaded guilty after it failed to provide a system to manage trees on its site at Oak Lodge Care Home in Bitterne, Southampton.
West Hampshire Magistrates Court heard that on 8 July 2021, the girl was out for an evening jog with her father. As she was running on a pavement outside the entrance to the care home, a lime tree fell on her. She suffered serious crush injuries and her leg had to be amputated. It was subsequently found that the tree was diseased with a common fungus and had likely been rotting for several years prior to the accident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that, over a number of years, Bupa Care Homes had failed to have in place a strategy to manage trees, including adequate risk assessment, proactive surveys, inspections, and monitoring of trees, to identify where remedial work may have been required to prevent risk of the tree falling.
Bupa Care Homes pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and received a fine of £400,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £3,275 and a victim surcharge.
HSE Inspector Natalie Pomfret said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to have in place suitable arrangements for managing trees on their premises, and failure to ensure that the trees were properly inspected and maintained.”